AUSTRALIAN FINANCIAL REVIEW – TUESDAY, 7 FEBRUARY 2012
Gina Rinehart’s children will not buckle to her demands to keep details of a fight over the family’s $20 billion fortune private, despite her threats that she will stop paying insurance that covers the cost of a ransom if they are kidnapped.
Sources close to the case told The Australian Financial Review that the three eldest children of Australia’s richest person had rejected her request that they agree to a suppression order by 10am yesterday or forgo the insurance. Mrs Rinehart would not comment.
The request was contained in a letter sent by Mrs Rinehart’s lawyers to the children on Friday after details of the case were exposed in court on Thursday. The children want to remove Mrs Rinehart as trustee of a family trust worth more than $3 billion.
It was revealed in court that the children were concerned for their safety as they no longer had access to trust or company-related funds to pay for bodyguards.
“I don’t think you understand what it means that the whole world thinks you are going to be wealthier than Bill Gates,” one daughter, Hope Welker, wrote in an email.
“It means we all need bodyguards and very safe homes!! I don’t have the money to protect myself or my children and it scares me.”
Experts said the publicity from the dispute had increased the chances of family members being targeted by criminals.
“The last thing you want is publicity,” said Peter Stening, who runs the global kidnap and ransom arm of specialist Sydney-based insurers Stening Simpson. “In 33 years we have never had one of our kidnaps in the press.”
His company, which is not involved in the Rinehart matter, covers 24,000 employees and wealthy individuals in Australia for ransom insurance of up to $50 million. He estimates about a quarter of all Australian companies have such insurance, compared with 75 per cent in the United States.
This was due to Australians’ more relaxed attitude when travelling overseas, often seeing themselves as “the good guys”, he said. His company uses former Australian SAS, Israeli Mossad and US CIA officers to help recover people who are kidnapped.
Mrs Rinehart has attracted other media attention over the past week after lifting her stake in Fairfax Media, publisher of the Financial Review, to about 13 per cent. She also owns 10 per cent of the Ten Network.