Gina Rinehart wants to bring an end to the litigation with two of her four children. Photo: Bohdan Warchomij
A day after Gina Rinehart offered to step down as trustee of the multi-billion dollar family trust her youngest daughter is trying one last time to move the legal battle out of the public domain and into private arbitration.
An appeal by Ginia Rinehart will be heard this afternoon in the NSW Court of Appeal.
It follows a move by Gina Rinehart on Tuesday to announce she no longer wanted to be trustee of the multi-billion dollar family trust in a bid to bring an end to the litigation with two of her four children.
Despite the move, her two elder children, John Hancock and Bianca Rinehart, want the case to go to trial on October 8. They want their mother to be cross-examined over her role as trustee.
In the lead-up to the trial next week, their lawyers are requesting more documents that relate to tax advice from PricewaterhouseCoopers in relation to the vesting of the family trust on September 6, 2011.
Orders were made on Tuesday for Mrs Rinehart to hand over all requested documents. These documents are expected to be used in the trial.
Some documents that were made available in court on Tuesday include notes from Rinehart requesting to “kill” certain words in a draft letter that was being prepared for her four children ahead of the trust vesting.
The notes, written on August 16, days before Mrs Rinehart’s letter was sent to her children warning them they faced bankruptcy if the trust was allowed to vest as it would attract a significant capital gains tax bill, requests the date August be removed and “as late as possible send it to them just before JN [Jay Newby, her right hand man] goes to bed September 4.”
The letter triggered a legal action by three of the four children to remove Rinehart as trustee, claiming ''deceptive, manipulative and disgraceful conduct'' regarding her management of the Hope Margaret Hancock Trust.
John Hancock later received a private binding ruling from the ATO that said no capital gains tax was payable by the beneficiaries.
Mrs Rinehart has argued she has always acted in her children’s best interests as trustee. In a press release issued on Tuesday night, Rinehart’s lawyers said: “It is unfortunate that some of the Australian media has been misled by one of the plaintiffs, and that there have been inaccurate, confused and outright misrepresentative articles published in some of the Australian press.”
Against this backdrop the warring parties will try to mediate who will be a suitable replacement as trustee of the family trust.
Mrs Rinehart has asked that the new trustee of the Hope Margaret Hancock Trust be a lineal descendent that has no “characteristics which could put the trust assets at risk, and has an established record of “honouring agreements” and a string of other attributes, including “abiding by deeds and complying with any undertakings given to a court, with no history of wanting trust benefits applied disproportionately to their own benefit, nor a record of acting against the interests of the principal asset of the trust, willing to listen to advice from people experienced in the resources industry, then make informed and rational decision about the interests concerning the beneficiaries; principal asset, the trust’s shares in HPPL [Hancock Prospecting Pty Ltd].”