A loose network of Asian and Australian businessmen is secretly bankrolling legal action against Gina Rinehart by her three estranged children.
Mrs Rinehart's only son John Hancock has been in Hong Kong for the past two days to shore up support from high-profile Asian figures for the massive legal bills faced by him and his sisters Hope Welker and Bianca Rinehart in the bitter family feud. He was handed $80,000 in cash on Thursday night by a well-connected friend and businessman with links across Hong Kong and mainland China, with the promise of more to come.
"The Chinese place high importance on family," the businessman told _The Weekend West _ on the condition of anonymity.
"A mother usually does all she can to help her children, especially the son. Where this natural order of things is displaced, the Chinese will be easily engaged."
In his first full interview, Mr Hancock revealed yesterday that he and his sisters had turned down litigation funding. He said he had turned to an international network of close friends and associates in a bid to find alternatives to fund the battle, which is costing them $100,000 a month.
"Bianca has done everything she could," Mr Hancock said. "She sold her house after paying off the mortgage over ten years.
"Hope went as far as selling some jewellery and using virtually all her savings. Bianca right now is selling clothes on eBay.
"We are not flying in private jets or driving around in Rolls-Royces, I assure you.
"Hope is struggling to pay rent from July and Bianca and I are dipping into our limited pockets to help her with her kids' school fees.
"I don't say this to extract sympathy - many do it much tougher - but the perception is there that both sides of this are very wealthy and squabbling for more.
"The reality is their side (his mother and youngest sister Ginia) has everything, as it stands, and we have nothing."
The children, who have been cut off financially since the battle began, launched action against their mother six months ago to have her removed as head of the family trust for alleged mismanagement and deception. Mr Hancock said Bianca and Hope had managed to pay the legal bills for the first three months, about $300,000, but it had stripped them of their savings and assets.
Legal bills for the past two months, about $190,000, were paid for with the help of loans from a group of Australian backers.
The money from the Chinese businessmen is being stockpiled for the months ahead.
Mrs Rinehart, one of the world's 30 richest people, fought for months to have details of the case suppressed. Her last attempt failed last Friday.