Gina Rinehart may be Australia's richest person with wealth estimated at $17 billion. While she may be crafty and wise in her business dealings, did her three estranged children outwit her via estranged daughter Hope Welker's walking away from the lawsuit they filed in 2011?
Fairfax journalist Adele Ferguson wrote in Brisbane Times that Ms Welker actually had a secret deal with siblings John Hancock and Bianca Rinehart to share the $300 million windfall she got by backing off from the lawsuit that sought to remove their mother as head of a trust fund established by their grandfather Lang Hancock.
Ms Rinehart had previously offered Ms Welker the same amount for her not to join the lawsuit, but the second daughter of the mining magnate went on with the court case but withdrew this week over her weak financial position.
However, Ms Ferguson disclosed that part of Ms Welker's confidential agreement with her mum is the payment of the $300 million, which, in turn, is covered by a secret deal among the three siblings to split the amount three ways. In addition, Ms Welker was supposed to shoulder all the legal fees and loans they made in relation to the lawsuit.
With the two other siblings saying the lawsuit against their mum would continue, Ms Rinehart may have just provided John and Bianca with financial firepower to pursue further the lawsuit, although the money definitely is no match to richest Australian person's $17 billion stash.
Ms Ferguson also hinted that Ms Welker could have received a smaller amount than the original pre-lawsuit offer of $300 million, citing a text message that Ms Welker got on Nov 26, 2011 which was shared with the Fairfax journalist.
The SMS came from Ryan Johnston, the fiancé of youngest Rinehart Ginia and on the side of their mum, which read: "I'm not sure what you've been offered as I'm not privy to all that but my suggestion is to get as much as you're being offered, go buy two massive houses, a jet and five cars and send you kids to the school you want. Much better than trying to make a deal when you are out of money and at your weakest time to negotiate . . . Call me whenever you want and I'm doing this under the radar so let's keep it that way."
Several weeks after receiving the SMS, Ms Welker inked the secret deal with her siblings. Prior to receiving the windfall, the three siblings hired litigation funders for their lawsuit, which Ginia said was a stupid thing to do and led her to advise Ms Welker to accept the $300 million offer from them mum.
Ms Welker has previously complained that she was down to her last $60,000, had no money to pay for her children's school fees or hire a nanny and cook, and was even separated from her husband, prompting her to back out of the lawsuit.
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