Famous Estate Fights- The Rineharts of Australia

RinehartAustralia has its share of larger than life billionaires with the Murdoch and Parker families, but the mining magnate Rinehart family may take the cake yet for the most vitriolic court fight of all time.

The Guardian reports on the Rinehart family:

SYDNEY — The son of Gina Rinehart, Australia’s richest person, called his youngest sister “an oxygen thief” and suggested she wear a bag over her head, it was alleged Tuesday as a long-running feud over the family’s fortunes finally reached court.

The embarrassing legal fight over control of a multibillion-dollar trust fund has led to the damaging release of private, frequently vitriolic emails and correspondence between Ms. Rinehart and her four children.

Bianca Rinehart, 37, the oldest, appeared as the first witness in a case that was lodged three years ago.

She told the Supreme Court of New South Wales in Sydney she had been threatened and intimidated by her mother, but was determined to try to gain control of the $5-billion family trust.

She also disclosed she did not invite any family members to her wedding in Hawaii last year because she wanted it to be a “happy affair.”

Bianca was forced to admit she may have referred to her brother, John Hancock, 38 — her effective ally in the case — as an “idiot” and may also have criticized his “destructive” drinking and gambling problems.

“I can’t deny I said that … I believe that it is no longer an issue,” she said. “I do not always agree with everything he does.”

The case centres on a trust set up more than 20 years ago by Ms. Rinehart’s father, the mining magnate Lang Hancock. Some of the children have accused their mother of acting deceitfully and changing the date on which they could access their money without telling them.

Since the creation of the trust, Ms. Rinehart has at times appeared to favour each of her four children as successors. Eventually, she fell out with her three elder children and turned her attention to Ginia, 27, her youngest daughter.

Ginia was the only child to side with her mother in the legal dispute, and has been rewarded with promotions in the tightly controlled mining empire; another daughter, Hope Welker, initially sided with her two older siblings, but complained she was “down to my last $60,000″ and eventually settled with her mother for an undisclosed sum.

The court heard Ms. Rinehart used “threats and intimidation” and contacted Bianca’s friend Grant Hackett, an Australian Olympic swimming champion, to try to persuade her to drop the case.

“Anybody who can stand up to that kind of conduct … has got the strength of character to do this job [trustee of the family trust],” said Christopher Withers, Bianca’s lawyer.

The court heard John emailed his mother to describe Ginia as a moron and The case centres on a trust set up more than 20 years ago by Ms. Rinehart’s father, the mining magnate Lang Hancock. Some of the children have accused their mother of acting deceitfully and changing the date on which they could access their money without telling them.

Since the creation of the trust, Ms. Rinehart has at times appeared to favour each of her four children as successors. Eventually, she fell out with her three elder children and turned her attention to Ginia, 27, her youngest daughter.

Ginia was the only child to side with her mother in the legal dispute, and has been rewarded with promotions in the tightly controlled mining empire; another daughter, Hope Welker, initially sided with her two older siblings, but complained she was “down to my last $60,000″ and eventually settled with her mother for an undisclosed sum.

The court heard Ms. Rinehart used “threats and intimidation” and contacted Bianca’s friend Grant Hackett, an Australian Olympic swimming champion, to try to persuade her to drop the case.

“Anybody who can stand up to that kind of conduct … has got the strength of character to do this job [trustee of the family trust],” said Christopher Withers, Bianca’s lawyer.

The court heard John emailed his mother to describe Ginia as a moron and The case centres on a trust set up more than 20 years ago by Ms. Rinehart’s father, the mining magnate Lang Hancock. Some of the children have accused their mother of acting deceitfully and changing the date on which they could access their money without telling them.

Since the creation of the trust, Ms. Rinehart has at times appeared to favour each of her four children as successors. Eventually, she fell out with her three elder children and turned her attention to Ginia, 27, her youngest daughter.

Ginia was the only child to side with her mother in the legal dispute, and has been rewarded with promotions in the tightly controlled mining empire; another daughter, Hope Welker, initially sided with her two older siblings, but complained she was “down to my last $60,000″ and eventually settled with her mother for an undisclosed sum.

The court heard Ms. Rinehart used “threats and intimidation” and contacted Bianca’s friend Grant Hackett, an Australian Olympic swimming champion, to try to persuade her to drop the case.

“Anybody who can stand up to that kind of conduct … has got the strength of character to do this job [trustee of the family trust],” said Christopher Withers, Bianca’s lawyer.

The court heard John emailed his mother to describe Ginia as a moron and “intellectually disabled” and suggested she “wear a bag over her head — cover up her genetic deficiencies from prying eyes.” He also called her an oxygen thief. Attempting to defend the comments, Bianca said her brother was trying to prevent the eventual transfer of their mother’s Hancock Prospecting, worth about $20-billion, to Ginia.

“He does not want to see the family business left to somebody who is not up to the job,” Bianca said.

The court heard Bianca contacted Hope via WhatsApp on Sunday and said, “Just wanted to say I’m taking your little chunk of iron ore with the engraved turtle with me into court and will hold it in my hand as it gives me strength.”

Under questioning, she denied the message was “completely self-serving and manipulative” or she was trying to win over her younger sister after Hope’s settlement with their mother.

Ms. Rinehart finally relinquished control of the trust last year but said she wanted to appoint a “lineal descendant” who has no history of “wanting personal favours.”Rinehart mining magnet fortune.

 

Trevor Todd

Trevor Todd is one of the province’s most esteemed estate litigation lawyers. He has spent more than 40 years helping the disinherited contest wills and transfers – and win. From his Kerrisdale office, which looks more like an eclectic art gallery than a lawyer’s office, Trevor empowers claimants and restores dignity to families across BC. He is a mentor to young entrepreneurs and an art buff who supports starving artists the world over. He has an eye for talent and a heart for giving back.

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