UK tycoon Richard Cousins, killed with sons in Sydney seaplane crash, leaves US$52 million to Oxfam under will’s ‘common tragedy’ clause

The huge bequest, representing almost the entire fortune of Cousins, comes as Oxfam faces a cash crisis

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 22 August, 2018, 9:57am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 22 August, 2018, 8:53pm

A British tycoon who was killed with his family in a seaplane crash in Australia on New Year’s Eve has left £41 million (US$52 million), almost his entire fortune, to the crisis-hit charity Oxfam, a newspaper reported on Tuesday.

The bequest comes at a time when Oxfam is trying to find £16 million in savings as it grapples with the fallout from a sex abuse scandal.

The charity, which has lost thousands of donors since reports earlier this year that its staff used prostitutes while working in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake, said it had only recently been notified and could not confirm the amount.

“We are extremely grateful for this bequest,” Oxfam said in a statement.

Richard Cousins, 58, CEO of catering giant Compass Group Plc, died with sons William, 25, Edward, 23, fiancée Emma Bowden, 48, and her daughter Heather, 11, when their plane nosedived into the Hawkesbury River north of Sydney.

The Sun newspaper reported that some time before the crash Cousins drew up a will with a “common tragedy clause”, leaving his money to Oxfam in the unlikely event that he and his sons were killed together.

Oxfam said it was working with Cousins’ family and its board of trustees to identify how the bequest would be used.

The sum is more than twice the 19.8 million pounds the charity received from legacies in the year 2016 to 2017.

The Sun said all but £3 million of Cousins’ fortune would go to the charity. Two of his brothers will receive £1 million each.

The seaplane was part of the Sydney Seaplanes business that has operated since 2005 with no previous record of mishap.

A preliminary investigation found it was off course, but could not determine the cause of the crash, which also killed Australian pilot Gareth Morgan.