Australian billionaire Gina Rinehart’s family feud spills out into public

The children of Australian billionaire Gina Rinehart alleged that she deceived them and acted with "gross dishonesty" regarding a multibillion-dollar family trust set up for them by their late grandfather.

John Hancock, Bianca Rinehart and Hope Rinehart Welker — the three eldest of Rinehart's four children — are waging a bitter court battle to have her removed as head of the trust.

Despite desperate recent attempts by Rinehart, 58, to keep details of the case censored, an Australian court on Monday released documents about the case, including a threat by Rinehart to her children that they could face bankruptcy if they did not extend her control of the trust.

The children, however, claim that Rinehart fraudulently changed the vesting date of a family trust — from September 2011 to 2068 — without their permission, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported.

According to the Nine Network, Rinehart contacted her children last year, days before her youngest daughter, Ginia — who is backing her mother — turned 25, when all four children were to receive their share of the trust.

The iron ore magnate warned them the vesting of the trust on Sept. 6 "would render them liable for a substantial amount of capital gains tax and lead to their bankruptcy," Nine wrote on its website.

According to Nine, Rinehart told her son: "Bankruptcy is not in the interest of the beneficiaries. It may however be reasonably arguable that personal development wise it would be in the best interests of the beneficiaries to force them to go to work and reconsider their holidaying lifestyles and attitudes."

To avoid financial ruin, Rinehart reportedly wrote in an email to her children, they should sign a new deed giving her long-term control of the trust.

Meanwhile, the documents released by the Supreme Court revealed that Rinehart told one of her daughters to name her price — offering Bianca Rinehart a quarterly sum of money in exchange for dropping the "unnecessary'' legal action against her mother.

The Murdoch press cites correspondence from Rinehart's chief financial officer Jay Newby to Bianca Rinehart, asking: 

"What dollar amounts would you like to receive on a quarterly basis, provided of course you promptly arrange for the unnecessary [proceedings] to be dropped today?"

Another daughter, Hope Welker, has alleged that her mother told her she would "face the consequences" of not agreeing to extend the family trust.

According to Nine, the allegations of deception and fraud could have serious ramifications for the Rinehart, recently named the world's 29th richest person in Forbes' list of top billionaires, who sits on the boards of multiple companies.

(More in GlobalPost's Down Under blog: Australian billionaire Gina Rinehart makes Forbes rich list, but do we care?)

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