Iron ore tycoon Gina Rinehart loses $3.8bn legal battle

Iron ore tycoon Gina Rinehart loses $3.8bn legal battle

Judge Brereton said Gina Rinehart had gone to “extraordinary lengths” to maintain control of the family trust, which owns 24% of Hancock Prospecting — a company founded by her father Lang Hancock. (Image from archives)

After a long-running legal battle, Australia's richest person and iron ore tycoon Gina Rinehart, lost Thursday control of the roughly $3.8 billion family trust in court to her children John Hancock and Bianca Rinehart.

NSW Supreme Court Justice Paul Brereton named Bianca, 38, as trustee of the Hope Margaret Hancock Trust, which was set up by her late grandfather Lang Hancock and is thought to be worth about $5 billion.

The judge also ordered Rinehart to hand up documents and accounts relating to the trust that John and Bianca had claimed were withheld from them for many years.

The ruling weakens Rinehart's grip on her business empire, with the trust holding almost 25% of iron ore miner Hancock Prospecting, which she inherited from her father who claimed swathes of the rich Pilbara iron ore deposits in the 1950s.

Last year the mining company finalized a deal worth $7.2bn to develop Roy Hill, one the world's largest iron ore mines, which is expected to begin shipments later this year.

South Korea's POSCO, Japan's Marubeni Corp and Taiwan's China Steel Corp also have stakes in the mine, which will be Australia's No.4 once it reaches full production.

Rinehart was this week ranked the 37th most powerful woman in the world by Forbes magazine. Her wealth is estimated at $12.2 billion, down from $17.4 billion last year.