Richest Australian Gina Rinehart loses control of family trust to daughter in bitter feud

Australia's richest person Gina Rinehart was on Thursday ordered by a court to relinquish control of a multi-billion-dollar family trust to her eldest daughter, culminating a long and bitter feud. -- PHOTO: BLOOMBERG
Australia's richest person Gina Rinehart was on Thursday ordered by a court to relinquish control of a multi-billion-dollar family trust to her eldest daughter, culminating a long and bitter feud. -- PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

SYDNEY (AFP) - Australia's richest person Gina Rinehart was on Thursday ordered by a court to relinquish control of a multi-billion-dollar family trust to her eldest daughter Bianca, culminating a long and bitter feud.

The New South Wales Supreme Court appointed Bianca Rinehart as head of the trust, reportedly worth A$4-A$5 billion (S$4.2-S$5.2 billion), which was established by her grandfather, the late mining magnate Lang Hancock.

"The court concluded that Bianca was better suited than any of the alternatives to administer this trust in the prevailing circumstances," the judgement read.

It ordered Gina Rinehart, 61, to deliver the trust documents and accounts to her daughter.

The family feud has been simmering since 2011, when three of Rinehart's four children - son John and sisters Bianca and Hope - acted against their mother. Their other sister Ginia supported her.

At the centre of the dispute was the lucrative trust set up by Lang Hancock in 1988 with his four grandchildren as the beneficiaries.

His daughter Gina was to run the fund, which holds a 24-per-cent share in her iron ore company Hancock Prospecting, until the youngest grandchild turned 25 in 2011.

But just days before this date, Gina Rinehart allegedly moved to delay the payout until 2068, saying it would avoid a huge capital gains tax bill.

This prompted the siblings to take court action accusing her of misconduct, although Hope later withdrew from the case.

Justice Paul Brereton said in handing down the ruling that Rinehart had "gone to extraordinary lengths" to maintain control directly or indirectly of the trust.

But he ruled that Bianca had demonstrated the ability to "robustly assert the rights of the trust".

Gina Rinehart was this week ranked the 37th most powerful woman in the world by Forbes magazine with wealth of US$12.2 billion (S$16.5 billion), down from US$17.4 billion last year due to a slumping iron ore price.