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Background: History of Rio Tinto case

05-18-2010 08:52 BJT

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The Rio Tinto case dates back nearly a year. It has since tested relations between China and Australia. Here is a look at the history of the case.

Chinese prosecutors detained four Rio Tinto employees in July of 2009.

The four were charged with commercial bribery. Evidence showed they accepted bribes in return for helping private Chinese mills secure access to relatively low-cost and stable term iron ore from Rio Tinto.

They were also alleged to be stealing commercial secrets that helped Rio Tinto in iron ore negotiations with Chinese mills.

The commercial secrets included information about a steel mill's production cut, a list of licensed iron ore importers and proceedings of meetings held by the China Iron and Steel Association.

A number of China's most active iron ore importers were also named as the companies offering bribes during investigations. They included iron ore trader Sinochem International, privately owned Rongcheng Steel in Tianjin, and private steel mills Tangshan Guofeng and Hebei Jinye.

In late March, the four Rio Tinto employees were convicted in a Chinese court. Sentences ranged between 7 and 14 years in prison. Rio's former China iron ore operations head, Stern Hu, was sentenced to 10 years in jail and he has decided not to appeal.

Rio Tinto fired the four employees immediately after the verdict, distancing itself from what it called deplorable behavior.

China became Rio Tinto's biggest single customer in 2009, taking a quarter of its sales.

Editor:Zhang Ning |Source:

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