Gina Rinehart, the richest woman in the world, has been accused by her children of inserting a ‘poison pill’ clause in the constitution of her company that will effectively prevent them from ever getting shares.
The children, John Hancock and Bianca Hope Rinehart, applied to the NSW Supreme Court on Tuesday to have their mother removed as trustee of the trust fund that holds shares in the family company, Hancock Prospecting Pty Ltd. (HPPL).
Christopher Withers, representing the children, told the NSW Supreme Court that Mrs Rinehart changed the constitution of HPPL in 2006. He said, ”The changes she made to the constitution of Hancock Prospecting prevent my clients from ever taking a distribution of their shares in Hancock Prospecting and prevent her from being removed as trustee.” He added, “That is the reason why [Mrs Rinehart] should be removed as trustee.”
Justice Patricia Bergin remarked that it was a ”very serious allegation”. ”You’ve made a claim that [Mrs Rinehart] misbehaved by amending the constitution and that misbehavior was as trustee for a particular purpose.” she said.
Documents submitted to the court allege Mrs Rinehart ”caused HPPL to pass a special resolution” amending the constitution in March 2006. Her children claim that their mother acted ” deceitfully” and with “gross dishonesty”.
The documents allege that Mrs Rinehart filed a tax return for the trust for the 2011-12 financial year. It stated that Hancock and Bianca Rinehart had each been distributed $398,206 by way of their share of the income of the trust. ”Those funds have not been distributed by the trust to either [Mr Hancock or Bianca Rinehart],” the documents say. Mrs Rinehart allegedly said last month that she had the right to exercise a lien over those funds – or keep them.
Gina Rinehart’s youngest daughter does not support her siblings, and has sided with her mother in rejecting the claims.