Gina Rinehart just ranked No. 29 on Forbes’ Billionaire List but she probably will not be up for any mother-of-the-year awards.
The widowed mother of four is trying to shut her three eldest children out of their inheritance, calling them slackers and “manifestly unable” to handle the money that they are due. She lost her battle earlier this week to keep their bitter feud out of the public eye after an Australian court lifted the gag order and released hundreds of pages of court documents detailing the dispute.
Rinehart may best be described as a female Australian Donald Trump and is listed as Australia’s richest woman. Rinehart accrued her billions (she is said to be worth $18 billion) after inheriting her father’s Hancock Prospecting iron ore business.
Lang Hancock set up the Hope Margaret Hancock trust for his grandchildren, John Hancock, Bianca Rinehart and Hope Rinehart-Welker before he died in 1992. The trust is in their name.
The children are suing their mother, arguing that she should be removed from the position of trustee after behaving ”deceitfully” and with “gross dishonesty.” According to court documents obtained by ABC News, Rinehart warned her children that, lest they make her trustee, they could face capital tax gains up to $142 million, which would lead to bankruptcy.
The children’s suit alleges that she gave them less than one business day to make the decision and that she threatened “not to act in the best interests of the beneficiaries (children) unless the beneficiaries signed a deed that contained such terms.” In the agreement the children feel they were forced to make, Rinehart extended her control of the trust until 2068. The youngest of the three kids would be 83 at that point and Rinehart would be 114.
The $2.4 billion fortune the Rinehart kids were expecting to inherit last year could have had an income of up to $250 million a year.
The documents show that Rinehart lacked faith in her children’s business skills, who she says lack experience to head the trust. In them, Hancock’s chief financial officer valued the company at $10.3 billion; the trust represents around 23 percent of the company.
Rinehart’s defense says, “None of the plaintiffs (her children) has the requisite capacity or skill, nor the knowledge, experience, judgment or responsible work ethic to administer a trust in the nature of the trust in particular as part of the growing HPPL Group,” she said.
In court documents, Rinehart characterized her three oldest kids as slackers “manifestly unsuitable” to manage the trust fund set up by their grandfather.
In emails, she told them that it would be in their best interests “to force them to go to work and reconsider their holidaying lifestyles and attitudes.”
Rinehart said that she had given the children short-term positions but that they never ”occupied any long-term position of professional or occupational responsibility, either in the resources industry or elsewhere.”
In a letter to the children on Sept. 3, Mrs. Rinehart demanded that the children cede control of the fund to her lest their inexperience leads them all to bankruptcy. Rinehart’s youngest daughter, Ginia, agrees with her mother, saying that her siblings were ”not fit and proper persons to be trustees.”
Rinehart has accused her children of profligacy. According to a statement released by her lawyers, “Additionally the plaintiffs have each chosen multimillion-dollar homes with water views and swimming pools to enjoy. The trust income after tax was too small to provide the luxury homes, so these were provided to the three eldest children in addition to trust dividends and other benefits.”