Aussie magnate slams 'selfish children'

Aussie magnate slams 'selfish children'
Australian mining magnate Gina Rinehart.

Australia's richest person, Mrs Gina Rinehart, has attacked her children as "selfish" after a lawsuit over the family fortune exposed bitter jealousies and resentment between the iron ore magnate and the four warring siblings.

Mrs Rinehart's attack was directed at her two oldest children, John Hancock and Bianca Rinehart, who are seeking control of a A$5 billion (S$5.8 billion) family trust.

The children say that Mrs Rinehart could jeopardise the growth of her mining empire if she persists, along with her youngest daughter Ginia, with efforts to introduce a trustee from outside the family.

The older children want Bianca to be made the trustee and say this will ensure the future of the Hope Downs iron ore mining venture with Rio Tinto - a deal under which the trust is to be controlled by one of Mrs Rinehart's descendants. Mrs Rinehart's company, Hancock Prospecting, has a A$10 billion stake in the project.

But the long-running battle has extended far beyond business matters. When the case finally landed in the Supreme Court of New South Wales last week, it revealed the extent of the enmity, jealousies and dysfunction in Australia's wealthiest family.

Bianca, 37, was the first witness and revealed that she did not tell her mother or her three siblings about her marriage in Hawaii last year .

"I wanted it to be a happy affair," she said.

The court heard that she had faced "threats and intimidation" by her mother to drop the case.

Bianca was asked about an e-mail from her brother to his mother in which he described Ginia as a moron and an idiot and suggested she "wear a bag over her head".

Attempting to defend the comments, Bianca said her brother was trying to prevent the eventual transfer of Hancock Prospecting - worth an estimated A$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.

Ginia later fired back in a newspaper interview in which she attacked Bianca for backing their brother's "nasty" attack.

"It has been hurtful that Bianca, while in a public proceeding, chose to effectively side with John's comments about me,'' she told Sydney's Daily Telegraph yesterday.

"Nasty and mean comments shouldn't be made about anyone, let alone a family member, and certainly not to be then supported publicly by another family member."

The civil case centres on a trust set up more than 25 years ago by Mrs Rinehart's late father, mining magnate Lang Hancock.

The two children say Mrs Rinehart "deceitfully" changed the date at which they could access their share of the family's mining empire from 2011 to 2068 without their knowledge.

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