Hancock family trust dispute could lead to Hope Downs buyout

Bianca Rinehart will appear in the NSW Supreme Court today to explain why she should replace her mother as trustee of the family trust.

The $5 billion trust holds 23.4 per cent of Hancock Prospecting, which in turn owns a 50 per cent share in the Hope Downs iron ore mine, partnered with Rio Tinto.

The Australian reported that 37-year-old Bianca Rinehart will argue that Gina Rinehart’s bid to install a corporate trustee could jeopardise that stake in Hope Downs.

An agreement between Rio Tinto and Hancock Prospecting stipulates that the family company must be owned and controlled by direct descendants of Gina Rinehart.

Counsel for Bianca Rinehart are expected to argue that installation of a corporate trustee could breach that agreement, resulting in litigation or forced sale of the share in Hope Downs.

Reports on the number of illegitimate children fathered by Lang Hancock are unproven, although as many as eight people, two of whom are now dead, having claimed to be his children.

None of those children, including Hilda Kickett who was DNA tested, are entitled to an inheritance as Hancock died with debts while the family trust was guarded by Gina Rinehart.

It has been said in court that in 2011 Gina Rinehart extended the vesting date of the trust until 2068 without telling her four children.

The mining magnate has denied any wrongdoing or improper conduct.

Siblings John Hancock and Bianca Rinehart have alleged in court documents that Gina Rinehart acted with “gross dishonesty” and a “fundamental breach of duty”.

The elder Rinehart relinquished control of the trust in 2013, one day before a hearing for the dispute.

If Rinehart is found to have acted improperly in her administration of the family trust, it may threaten her role as director of Hancock Prospecting.

Son John Hancock has nominated Bianca as the family trustee, opposed by sibling Ginia.

Sister Hope Welker took a $45 million payment to leave the dispute.

Image: SMH

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