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Gina Rinehart loses court battle to control $3.8 billion family trust

Gina Rinehart’s son John Hancock and Bianca Rinehart had sued their mother in September 2011, accusing her of misconduct when she sought to delay the trust’s vesting date from that month to 2068 and seeking to replace her as the fund’s trustee. Photo: AFPPremium
Gina Rinehart’s son John Hancock and Bianca Rinehart had sued their mother in September 2011, accusing her of misconduct when she sought to delay the trust’s vesting date from that month to 2068 and seeking to replace her as the fund’s trustee. Photo: AFP

Her eldest daughter Bianca Rinehart will serve as trustee of the Hope Margaret Hancock Trust, court ruled in Sydney

Melbourne: Gina Rinehart, Australia’s richest person, lost a four-year legal battle for control of a A$5 billion ($3.8 billion) family trust.

Her eldest daughter Bianca Rinehart will serve as trustee of the Hope Margaret Hancock Trust, Justice Paul Brereton ruled on Thursday in Sydney. The trust holds 23.45% of closely held mining company Hancock Prospecting Pty.

“The court concluded that Bianca was better suited than any of the alternatives to administer this trust," Brereton, of the New South Wales Supreme Court, said in his judgment.

Rinehart’s son John Hancock and Bianca Rinehart had sued their mother in September 2011, accusing her of misconduct when she sought to delay the trust’s vesting date from that month to 2068 and seeking to replace her as the fund’s trustee.

The billionaire had earlier resigned as manager of the fund, established on behalf of her four children and holding assets worth about A$5 billion, the judge said.

“Mrs. Rinehart has demonstrated that she is prepared to go to extraordinary lengths to retain control, directly or indirectly, of the trust, and that she is capable of exerting enormous pressure and great influence to do so," he said.

Three proposed trustee companies were unsuitable either as a result of their planned fees or because of uncertainty over their “robust independence from Mrs. Rinehart," the judge said.

Much pressure

All three licensed trustees probably didn’t “comprehend just how much pressure Mrs. Rinehart could exert were she minded to do so," he said.

The court dismissed a claim that amendments to Hancock Prospecting’s constitution had been improperly agreed to by their mother.

Jason Morrison, a spokesman for Rinehart, didn’t immediately respond to phone calls seeking comment in response to the judgment.

Rinehart, who inherited iron ore and coal interests from her father Lang Hancock and has built a $12.6 billion fortune, is the second-richest woman in the Asia-Pacific region and 12th globally, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

Hancock Prospecting is scheduled to begin exports from Roy Hill, a $10 billion iron ore mine, from September, the first operation the family will both own and operate itself. Other interests are managed by partners including Rio Tinto Group.

Ginia Rinehart, the mining scion’s youngest daughter, had sided with her mother in the dispute. Her third youngest child, Hope Welker Rinehart, initially joined the lawsuit and later withdrew. Bloomberg

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