Australian mining magnate loses bid to throw children's lawsuit out of court

Wed Oct 31, 2012 2:19am EDT
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By Jane Wardell

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australia's richest woman Gina Rinehart lost a court bid on Wednesday to throw out a lawsuit brought by three of her children over control of a $4 billion family trust.

Justice Paul Brereton of the New South Wales Supreme Court ruled that the case should go to a full trial at a date yet to be determined.

Rinehart's three eldest children are seeking to remove her as the sole trustee of the trust that holds an almost one-quarter share in Hancock Prospecting Pty Ltd, one of the world's largest privately-owned mining companies.

The case has captured public attention in Australia as it reveals details of the private life of Rinehart, the only child of Lang Hancock, a household name after being credited with discovering the world's largest deposit of iron ore in Pilbara, Western Australia.

Rinehart had tried unsuccessfully to have the hearings held behind closed doors after her three elder children -- Hope Rinehart Welker, Bianca Rinehart and John Hancock -- accused her of serious misconduct in her role as trustee.

In return, family emails made public as part of the case showed Rinehart describing the three as lazy and spoilt. Rinehart's youngest child, daughter Ginia, has sided with her mother in the dispute.

The elder trio argued Rinehart was unfit to be trustee after she extended the trust's vesting date to 2068, well into their 80s and 90s, claiming they would face "catastrophic financial consequences" from tax dues if she did not.

After the lawsuit was launched last September, Rinehart changed her mind and vested the trust in April, meaning she gave up some of her discretionary powers.   Continued...