Tables turn for Gina Rinehart in family trust saga

Wednesday, March 13, 2013
Tables turn for Gina Rinehart in family trust saga
Gina Rinehart

After months locked in a high profile family feud that has evolved into a bitter legal battle, the tables are starting to turn for Australia's wealthiest person, Gina Rinehart.

Since the dispute over the mining magnate's fortune erupted in September 2011 when her three eldest children sued their mother over the family's $4 billion trust, Gina hasn't slipped from public focus and very little sympathy has been awarded to the either of the wealthy warring parties.

The saga is set to be made into a TV series and so far it has played out like one, with Gina playing the villain, determined to deprive her hard done-by children of the inheritance they believe is rightfully theirs.

But after a small win in the NSW Supreme Court yesterday, the story is starting to take a turn with one of Gina's daughters withdrawing from legal action, and her eldest son accusing the other two daughters of being simpletons.

Gina's estranged daughter Hope — who together with her brother John and sister Bianca sought to remove their mother as a trustee to the family fortune after she told them they could not access the trust until 2068 — withdrew from legal action and now technically becomes a defendant in the case against her mother, leaving two of her siblings to continue the action without her.

Details of a 'confidential alternative' that John Hancock proposed to Gina reveal he hid deals from the sisters he later joined in bringing suing his mother, and made a number of disparaging remarks about them.

Court documents have revealed in the days after Gina told her children about the new terms of the trust, he offered to accept her terms in exchange for an undisclosed multimillion-dollar salary, clearly unconcerned about his younger siblings whose treatment he was bitter about.

"I've made it clear I'm open to an arrangement, particularly as I've had to wait an extra 10 years than the younger girls who have always been treated better anyway," he says in an email to Rinehart's trusted advisor Mr Newby.

"I doubt they will be capable of doing their own research on the matter."

In another email to his mother the same day he goes on to insult his sisters, doubting their "intellectual capacity" to read details of the Tax Act pertaining to the deal unless "I direct them to the applicable subsection … or explain it in suitable baby language for them."

He also sought "an AUD 15m 'sorry payment' direct from GHR (Gina Hope Rinehart) for how she treated me over these last 15 years" and in the past the Thailand-based businessman has said he has "all of the bad things about having money and none of the good things".

Days after the proposal, John joined his sisters who were already taking steps towards suing his mother, but yesterday said if she'd done a settlement with him then "it would've been much cheaper and easier than anything I'd contemplate now".

The legal battle continues with only the two oldest siblings. Gina's legal fees are reported to cost her around $100,000 a month.

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