Page last updated at 16:42 GMT, Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Rio Tinto employees 'to face trial' in China

Yandicoogina mine, Western Australia
Rio Tinto supplies vast quantities of iron ore to China

China has indicted four Rio Tinto employees on charges of bribery and violating commercial secrets, according to the state news agency Xinhua.

The indictment means they will now face trial. The Anglo-Australian firm has declined to comment on the report.

Australian citizen Stern Hu, Rio Tinto's lead iron ore negotiator in China, is one of the four facing trial.

Mr Hu and his Chinese colleagues Liu Caikui, Ge Minqiang and Wang Yon have been in detention since July last year.

If convicted, they could face up to 27 years in prison.

"The accused four, including Stern Hu, exploited their positions to seek gain for others, and numerous times either sought or illegally accepted massive bribes from a number of Chinese steel firms," said the prosecutor's office, as quoted by Xinhua.

In China it's very important to appreciate and understand the local environment and culture. They are nervous about foreign companies taking control of strategic assets and strategic companies. That's a continuous challenge for us.
Aditya Mittal, chief financial officer of steel producer Arcelor Mittal

"Many times they used personal inducements and other improper means to obtain commercial secrets from Chinese steel firms, causing serious consequences for the steel firms concerned."

The case has created a political and diplomatic problem for Australia's Mandarin-speaking Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, who has made improving relations with China - its biggest trading partner - a priority.

A month before the arrests, Rio scrapped a $19.5bn (£12.5bn) deal with China's state-owned Chinalco in favour of a tie-up with rival giant BHP Billiton, which angered some in Beijing.

The Australian government has not yet commented on the reports.

The BBC's Damian Grammaticus, reporting from China, said the fact senior executives could be arrested and put on trial in this way was worrying representatives of major foreign companies with bases there.

Aditya Mittal, chief financial officer of the world's biggest steel producer Arcelor Mittal, told the BBC World Service about the challenges of doing business in China.

"In China it's very important to appreciate and understand the local environment and culture," he told World Business News.

"They are nervous about foreign companies taking control of strategic assets and strategic companies. That's a continuous challenge for us."



Print Sponsor


SEE ALSO
Chinese prosecutors mull Rio case
11 Jan 10 |  Business
Rio Tinto accepts $2bn Alcan deal
23 Dec 09 |  Business
Rio denies China bribery claims
17 Jul 09 |  Business
China's Rio Tinto inquiry widens
14 Jul 09 |  Business
Rio detainee is 'in good health'
11 Jul 09 |  Business
Rio 'surprise' at bribery claims
10 Jul 09 |  Business

RELATED INTERNET LINKS
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

FROM OTHER NEWS SITES
Morningstar.com UPDATE: China Insists Rio Case To Be Handled According To Law - 45 mins ago
MarketWatch China insists Rio case to be handled according to law - 2 hrs ago
The Independent Chinese court charges 'Rio four' with bribery and espionage - 9 hrs ago
Hong Kong Standard Four Rio staff set to stand trial - 15 hrs ago
Mining Weekly China indicts Rio staff for bribery, commercial secrets - 23 hrs ago



FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

BBC navigation

BBC © 2013 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific