Rio Tinto staff jailed on bribery, trade secrets charges | world | Hindustan Times
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Rio Tinto staff jailed on bribery, trade secrets charges

world Updated: Mar 29, 2010 13:31 IST

AFP
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A Chinese court convicted four employees of mining giant Rio Tinto including an Australian national on Monday on bribery and trade secrets charges, handing down jail terms ranging from seven to 14 years.

Australian citizen Stern Hu was sentenced to 10 years in jail in the case which also involved three Chinese employees of the company and has strained relations with close trading partner Australia.

The four were found guilty of stealing trade secrets including the minutes of a China Iron and Steel Association meeting and information on China steel giant Shougang's output, the court said.

It marked the first time that details on the trade secrets charges had been publicly revealed.

The court in Shanghai also said Hu, who heads Rio's Shanghai office, took bribes totalling 6.46 million yuan (950,000 dollars).

It handed down jail terms of 14 years to Wang Yong, eight years to Ge Minqiang and seven years to Liu Caikui.

Liu's lawyer, Tao Wuping, said his client was likely to appeal. It was not immediately clear whether Hu and the other defendants planned to appeal.

The defendants were accused last week of accepting about 13 million dollars in bribes, according to their lawyers.

The four Rio employees were arrested last July during contentious iron ore contract talks between top mining companies and the steel industry in China, the world's largest consumer of the raw material. The talks collapsed.

The four defendants appeared before the court in civilian clothing, with Hu wearing a blue wind-breaker. His normally black hair was white.

Hu also was fined 500,000 yuan and had another 500,000 yuan worth of personal assets confiscated, the court said.

The trial has been closely watched as a test of the rule of law in China and has sparked concerns about doing business in the world's third-largest economy.