Australian pop star Vanessa Amorosi has tearfully told a court a “war” broke out among her family after she began to question her mother about where her money was going.
Ms Amorosi, 42, is suing her mum Joyleen Robinson for ownership of two properties bought with her music earnings.
Alleging her mother mismanaged her finances, Ms Amorosi is seeking to regain control of a property in Narre Warren and her current home in California.
Mrs Robinson is counter suing, claiming she has upheld an agreement to pay her daughter the original 2001 purchase price of $650,000 for the Narre Warren property and is entitled to it.
On Thursday, Ms Amorosi took the stand in the Victorian Supreme Court, claiming through tears her mother took control of her finances in the early 2000s.
“Back then I felt everything was wonderful,” she said.
“I discussed it with my mum because she was very fearful of people wanting to steal the money.
“Everyone became the enemy… she was to be the only one there with the right intentions, and I believed it.”
Through tears she told the court her mother had convinced her from a young age that “no one was to be trusted” but her.
One trust, called Llama, was used to hold profits after paying out staff and to purchase several properties across Victoria as “nest eggs”.
Ms Amorosi told the court she began recording music in her final year of high school, but her career took off after performing at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
She said Mrs Robinson set up companies and trusts to manage her money and “always felt like she was taking care of me”.
The following year she earnt more than $860,000 on the back of “constant touring” around Australia and Europe and purchased the Narre Warren property.
Ms Amorosi said she never sought advice before signing any documents at her mother’s request.
“I would sign many things, I would come home and mum would have a bundle of things,” she said.
Ms Amorosi said she was earning “millions of dollars” throughout the 2000s but issues came to a head when she was forced to sell her home near Los Angeles in 2014.
“I couldn’t get the answers to what had really gone down and why I was losing my house,” she said.
“I asked her to show me where the money had gone. (She said) I spent it all, I should come home and get back to touring… It turned into a bit of a standoff and there was a lot of confusion.
“Asking that question to my mum made my siblings very angry – it started a war between the family.”
She told the court it was “made clear” she was not welcome home after the argument.
Under cross-examination from Mrs Robinson’s counsel, Daniel Harrison, she denied there was ever an arrangement she would sell the Narre Warren property to her mother for the original purchase price.
The court was told that Ms Robinson had lived in the property with Ms Amorosi‘s stepfather, Peter Robinson, since 2001 and the title is split 50/50 with her daughter.
Earlier, Mr Harrison said Mr and Ms Robinson would transfer Ms Amorosi’s current house in California to her — and its remaining debts — if she transferred her interests in the Narre Warren property.
The trial, before Justice Steven Moore, continues.