Rinehart finally reveals her finances
DIVIDEND payments of more than $12 million flowed to mining billionaire Gina Rinehart and her family trusts in 2011, according to documents that shed new light on the operation of her main company, Hancock Prospecting.
The rare insight into Mrs Rinehart's tightly held business empire came after Hancock Prospecting finally responded to demands from the corporate watchdog to publish two years' worth of long-overdue financial statements.
The company had spent more than a year contesting the Australian Securities and Investments Commission's demand for the 2010 and 2011 financial year reports to be submitted, but finally dropped its appeal on Christmas Eve.
The reports for those two years were submitted to ASIC on the same day and were revealed by Fairfax Media on Friday.
Hancock Prospecting had argued that the release of the information would reveal commercially sensitive details about the business's operations and damage its bargaining power.
Many observers also believed the details of huge profits being made by Hancock Prospecting could be sensitive in the context of Mrs Rinehart's legal battle with several of her children over the control of family trusts linked to the company.
The documents revealed that the period between 2008 and 2011 was particularly lucrative for the company, which earned most of its money through an iron ore joint venture with Rio Tinto.
Profits rose from $225 million in June 2009 to $688 million in June 2010 to just shy of $1.2 billion on June 30, 2011.
The private, unlisted company paid dividends of $6.1 million on June 30, 2010, and more than doubled that figure to $12.496 million a year later.
The ownership structure of Hancock is split between Ms Rinehart and a trust linked to the Rinehart family.
Documents suggest Ms Rinehart is in control of the trust, which is believed to hold just under 20 per cent of the shares in Hancock.
Three of Mrs Rinehart's estranged children are expected to push ahead with legal action this year to remove her from her controlling position in the trust.
The documents also showed that by June 2011, Hancock Prospecting owned 100 per cent of 39 different subsidiary companies.
Hancock Prospecting owns about 70 per cent of Roy Hill Holdings, the company through which Mrs Rinehart is seeking to build Australia's next big iron ore mine, rail and port project.
Hancock Prospecting director Tad Watroba declined to comment on the release of the documents when contacted on Friday.
Hancock Prospecting is a substantial shareholder in Fairfax Media, the publisher of the Herald.