Australia's Gina Rinehart loses control of family trust to daughter

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Bianca Rinehart, the daughter of mining billionaire Gina Rinehart Australia"s richest person, arrives at the Federal Court, in Sydney, 27 April 2015.Image source, European Photopress Agency
Image caption,
The court found Bianca Rinehart better suited to administer the trust than any of the other alternatives

Australia's richest person, mining magnate Gina Rinehart, has lost control of the family trust to her daughter, after a long-running legal battle.

The New South Wales Supreme Court gave Bianca Rinehart control of the trust. It was set up by her grandfather and is worth more than A$4bn ($3.1bn; £2bn).

Mrs Rinehart's children John Hancock and Bianca Rinehart launched the legal action against their mother in 2011.

They said she had acted "deceitfully" in her dealings with the trust.

Their sister, Hope Rinehart Welker, launched the suit with them but later dropped out. A fourth child, Ginia, has sided with their mother, saying that the case filed by her siblings was "motivated entirely by greed".

Justice Paul Brereton found that Bianca, 38, was better suited than any of the alternatives to administer the trust under the circumstances. He ordered Mrs Rinehart to hand over trust documents to Bianca.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
The feud began after Mrs Rinehart changed the vesting date of the trust from 2011 to 2068

Justice Brereton said it had become clear that Gina Rinehart had "gone to extraordinary lengths" to maintain control directly or indirectly of the trust.

He said it was reasonable inference that she would try to influence any trustee who tried to move against her interest.

Mrs Rinehart has a net value of $12.2bn, according to Forbes, making her the richest person in Australia. She heads up Hancock Prospecting - an iron ore trader.

In 2014 the company finalised a deal worth $7.2bn to develop Roy Hill - one the world's largest iron-ore mines.

The feud in the family began after Mrs Rinehart changed the vesting date of the Hope Margaret Hancock Trust from 2011 to 2068.

The trust contains part ownership of Hancock Prospecting and would make each of Mrs Rinehart's children billionaires.