Less than a decade later, the siblings united in a bitter trust dispute against their mother, Australia’s richest person.
Bianca Rinehart agreed under cross examination yesterday that her allegation of “misleading and deceptive conduct” made against her mother “is a very serious one”.
“Yes, and I stand by it,” she told the Federal Court in Sydney yesterday.
Bianca Rinehart and Mr Hancock last year lodged the Federal Court case, alleging a “breach of fiduciary duty” by their mother in the handling of family trusts. The case is separate to action in the NSW Supreme Court, which has sought to remove Gina Rinehart as trustee of the Hope Margaret Hancock Trust.
The court heard that at the time of Mr Hancock’s death in 1992, the Hancock Family Memorial Foundation trust held 33 per cent of the shares in the family flagship company Hancock Prospecting and the tenements for Hope Downs and Mulga Downs and was “pursuing” the exploration licence for Roy Hill.
John and Bianca’s barrister Christopher Withers told the court yesterday that, over time, Mrs Rinehart changed the assets of the trust, leaving the trust the children were beneficiaries of “with virtually no assets”.
Ms Rinehart, during a tense cross-examination by her mother’s barrister, said she signed the trust deed because: “I was taking for granted that what my mother was presenting was the truth, as most children probably do.”
She alleged the attitude of Hancock Prospecting was: “Don’t give the children anything (document wise), keep the children in the dark.”
Bianca and her brother argue that their claim, if they are successful in court, “could be forceable against the assets” of Hancock Prospecting.
The hearing continues today.