Rinehart changed ownership structure amid court battle

Gina Rinehart altered the ownership structure of her Hancock Prospecting by transferring shares in family trusts central to a court battle with her estranged children, according to Fairfax Media.

Documents submitted to the corporate watchdog suggest that Hancock shares were removed from Rinehart family trust ''HMHT Investments'' on April 26, 2012 and transferred into another company, ''GH Rinehart as Trustee for The Hope Margaret Hancock Trust'', Fairfax reported.  

The move left the HMHT trust holding no shares in Hancock Prospecting but the Australian Securities & Investments Commission was only last week officially notified of the changes, Fairfax said.  

The change was dated four days before the trust at the centre of the dispute vested on April 30, 2012.

The trusts were crucial to a court battle that saw Ms Rinhehart's children win access to their share of family trusts.

In a statement, Hancock Prospecting chief financial officer Jay Newby said the shares were transferred at a price reflecting market value, and funds remained in the trust with no disadvantage to its beneficiaries.