Gina Rinehart, head of mining giant Hancock Prospecting and Australia’s richest woman, has suffered a setback after a court released details of her long-lasting feud with three of her four children.
On 2 February, the New South Wales Supreme Court decided to make public some of the emails her two daughters Bianca and Hope wrote to her.
In one email, Bianca, who lives in Canada, said she was afraid for her family’s security because of the frequent media reports about Gina’s wealth, which Forbes estimates at $18 billion (€13.7 billion).
“We are, by all accounts, the highest risk family in all of Australia,” she said.
“I would like to have security personnel ... Unfortunately I do not have the financial means to achieve this and ask that you consider sponsoring such an arrangement or please [make] funds available,” she added.
In another message, Hope, who is married to American businessman Ryan Welker and lives in New York, told her mother she needed money to hire staff.
The 26-year-old said: “I would buy them myself but I'm down to my last $60,000.”
"I don't think you understand what it means now that the whole world thinks you're going to be wealthier than Bill Gates — it means we all need bodyguards and very safe homes!! I should have enough money to have a bodyguard, housekeeper and cook. Even my friends who have nothing compared to your wealth have more staff [sic].''
Together with their brother John, Bianca and Hope took legal action against their mother in a bid to remove her as head of the family trust. The trust was set up by Gina’s father Lang Hancock, founder of the family business, for his four grandchildren. It controls about a quarter of the Rineharts’ fortune.
Gina’s lawyers tried to prevent the release of these messages, arguing they would expose the family to security risks and financial losses. In 2007, the family signed a pact that required all disputes to be settled in confidence to protect their image.
However, last week, the Australian court ruled that revealing details of the family’s legal battle would not cause any financial loss to the Rineharts.
Gina also hit headlines in early February for increasing her stake in publishing company Fairfax Media. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, she now controls about 14% of the media group.
Lang founded Hancock Prospecting in 1952, after he discovered the world’s biggest deposit of iron ore. Following his death in 1992, Gina took over the management of the family business.