The revelations about the Rinehart family fight continue to emerge, with hundreds of pages of documents released yesterday providing fresh details about how bitter the dispute has become.
Mining and media magnate Gina Rinehart has said her children are “manifestly unsuitable” to manage the family’s multibillion-dollar trust, and warned them they faced bankruptcy if they sought to have her removed as trustee. Her children, however, say Rinehart has acted “deceitfully” and with “gross dishonesty”.
Details of the months-long spat among members of Australia’s richest family were revealed in the NSW Supreme Court yesterday, with the children accusing Rinehart of placing “emotional, financial and legal pressure” on them to forgo control of the trust.
The spat centres on control of the Hope Margaret Trust, which owns about 23.5% of the iron ore company Rinehart owns, Hancock Prospecting. The trust was set up by her late father Lang Hancock, and Rinehart’s children believed it would vest last year, when Gina’s youngest daughter Ginia turned 25.
Three of Rinehart’s children – John Langley Hancock, Bianca Hope Rinehart and Hope Rinehart Welker – are seeking to remove their mother as trustee, saying she secretly extended the trust’s vesting date to 2068.
They are also calling for the release of advice from accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers on which Rinehart’s claim that they faced a $100 million capital gains tax bill is based, should the trust be wound up and distributed.
It has also been revealed that Hancock Prospecting chief financial officer Jay Newby wrote to Bianca asking her to give up the legal challenge in favour of a “quarterly distribution”.
But Rinehart, the richest woman in the Asia Pacific, has described the three children as “manifestly unable” to take control of the trust.
She added that her children lacked the knowledge, capacity, experience, judgement and “responsible work ethic” to administer a trust of that nature.
Her team has also argued that the children have never “occupied any long-term position of professional or occupational responsibility, either in the resources industry or elsewhere,” beyond jobs given by her.
Ginia Rinehart, who has sided with her mother, has also launched an attack against her siblings declaring their legal case was “nothing but a destructive display of greed, jealousy and a selfish sense of entitlement on behalf of my siblings”.
Rinehart was last week named the world’s 29th richest billionaire by Forbes magazine, with her fortune estimated at $18 billion.
Meanwhile, Hancock Prospecting is expected to announce this week that South Korean steel giant Posco will inject $1.5 billion cash into Hancock’s proposed $7 billion Roy Hill iron ore mine.
The reported investment lifts Posco’s stake in the flagship project to 15%, from 3.75%, with the value of the Western Australian project now put at about $13.5 billion.
According to The Australian, Hancock Prospecting is also expected to shortly unveil a deal with the Federal Government allowing it to import up to 1500 foreign workers for the Western Australian project, which is expected to start production at the end of 2014.