Rinehart Daughter Fails in Bid to Delay Trust Trial

Ginia Rinehart, the youngest daughter of the richest woman in the Asia-Pacific region, lost a bid for an appeal hearing aimed at delaying next week’s scheduled trial in a family dispute over a $4 billion trust.

A two-judge panel of the New South Wales Supreme Court of Appeal today rejected Ginia Rinehart’s request for a hearing in a bid to overturn a lower court judge’s denial of her request for the dispute to be settled in private arbitration. The appeal ruling allows the trial, set to start Oct. 8 in Sydney, to proceed.

Gina Rinehart, Ginia’s mother, on Oct. 1 offered to step down from managing the Hope Margaret Hancock Trust, yielding to demands of two of her other children who accuse her of breaching her duty and failing to act honestly in administering the holdings. Gina Rinehart herself and Hancock Prospecting Pty, her iron ore company, had unsuccessfully sought arbitration of the dispute earlier.

John Hancock and Bianca Rinehart sued their mother in September 2011 after she warned them three days before the trust was due to vest that if it were allowed to do so, they would face bankruptcy. Gina Rinehart had sought to extend the vesting date to 2068 and maintain control of the trust, which holds 23.5 percent of Hancock Prospecting shares.

John Hancock has offered to replace her as trustee, which would give him control over the shares. He also nominated Adelaide businessman Bruce Carter as an alternative trustee. The opposing parties are in mediation today to see if they can agree on a replacement.

Family Members

Gina Rinehart, 59, is the world’s 40th richest person with a net worth of $18.4 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, with Hancock Prospecting accounting for most of her wealth.

Gina Rinehart and Ginia oppose the appointment of a non-family member to take over.

“The appointment of a non-lineal descendant will have very grave consequences,” Ginia Rinehart’s lawyer Richard McHugh told the appeal panel yesterday. “The court should not and cannot appoint any trustee who is not a lineal descendant of Mrs. Rinehart.”

A deed governing the operation of the trust prohibits a non-family member from managing it.

Had Ginia Rinehart been successful in her bid for a hearing before the appeal court, McHugh said the trial judge would have been asked to put the dispute on hold pending the appeal.

The Hope Margaret Hancock Trust was created by Gina Rinehart’s father Lang Hancock for the benefit of his grandchildren, and according to original deed Lang Hancock created in 1988, the trustee shall “stand possessed of the shares and of the income” in the trust.

The case is John Langley Hancock v. Gina Hope Rinehart. 2011/285907, New South Wales Supreme Court (Sydney).

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