The Daily Telegraph (Sydney) - - News - IAN PATER­SON

A HIGH-FLY­ING hedge fund di­rec­tor who for­merly worked for Aus­tralia’s rich­est woman Gina Rine­hart has penned a heart­felt let­ter to a judge in sup­port of her drug-deal­ing boyfriend.

Adri­ana Kos­tov, who over­saw risk man­age­ment for Ms Rine­hart’s multi­bil­lion-dol­lar Roy Hill iron ore project in WA, smiled and waved at Chris­tian Eu­gene Iral, 44, as he was jailed for three years and nine months for sell­ing cocaine in 2016. She de­scribed Iral as “a sen­si­tive, gen­tle soul” who was aware he’d hurt the peo­ple who cared about him.

“I can hon­estly say to you that I be­lieve this ex­pe­ri­ence has been ‘the last straw’ for Chris­tian and he is aware now that he needs to change the path he has been on, if he is ever to ex­pe­ri­ence a happy and healthy fu­ture,” Ms Kos­tov said in her let­ter.

Iral pleaded guilty in the Down­ing Cen­tre District Court to sup­ply­ing un­der­cover po­lice with 17 grams of cocaine in a se­ries of meet­ings in Dou­ble Bay, in­clud­ing at the Golden Sheaf Ho­tel.

The court heard Iral, who was born in Colom­bia, moved with his fam­ily to Aus­tralia in 1972 be­fore his par­ents took the fam­ily to New York when he was four.

It was there in the rough neigh­bour­hood of Queens that he got a taste for drugs and in 1997 was de­ported back to Aus­tralia where he fell into a life of drugs, gam­bling and petty crime.

The court heard Ms Kos­tov, 35, and Iral, who met at a night­club, had an “on and off re­la­tion­ship” be­cause of her travel back and forth from her Perth home.

Ms Kos­tov was the first Aus­tralian re­gional di­rec­tor of the New York-based Hedge Fund As­so­ci­a­tion rep­re­sent­ing nearly 10,000 hedge funds across the world with a com­bined to­tal of more than $2 tril­lion in as­sets. She quit in Fe­bru­ary 2016 and is now a lawyer. In her let­ter, she said she be­lieved Iral had turned a cor­ner.

“I have en­cour­aged him to speak more openly about such feel­ings (lone­li­ness and de­pres­sion) and fur­ther upon his re­lease to set up a plan to re-en­gage with his fam­ily again and more of­ten,” she wrote.

“The last 20 months have been dif­fi­cult for me also as see­ing some­one in prison is not pleas­ant, how­ever, I do hope this ex­pe­ri­ence for him will lead to much more pos­i­tive fu­ture.”

Iral, who gave ev­i­dence dur­ing his sen­tenc­ing, said since his ar­rest the cou­ple had be­come very close.

“She is a per­son who doesn’t do drugs, she is very ed­u­cated per­son so that has a very pos­i­tive in­flu­ence on me,’’ he said.

“She is will­ing to help me find work through her con­tacts and she is a very pos­i­tive per­son to be with.”

When asked by Judge Arnott if his re­la­tion­ship with Ms Kos­tov had “flour­ished while you have been in prison” Iral agreed it had.

Adri­ana Kos­tov leaves court and (bot­tom right) as the re­gional di­rec­tor of the Hedge Fund As­so­ci­a­tion. Gina Rine­hart (in­set). Main pic­ture: Jonathan Ng

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