Monday, March 22, 2010, 3/22/2010 02:39:00 PM

Blockbuster Admission in Trial of Rio Tinto Employees in China: "I Took Bribes"

By Todd

We've covered this Chinese prosecution of existing Rio Tinto executive employees repeatedly: You'll recall that China arrested four Rio Tinto employees almost nine months ago, charging them with bribery and theft of China's commercial trade secrets. Rio Tinto was acting as lead negotiator for global iron ore suppliers in price talks with Chinese steel mills. One of those arrested, Stern Hu, was Rio Tinto’s senior executive in China in charge of iron ore. Rio Tinto has urged Chinese authorities to handle the case quickly and openly. In the meantime, it is moving ahead with its business in China, the world’s biggest steel maker and thus its biggest consumer of iron ore.

Well, emerging from the Shanghai court after Monday's hearing, attorney Tao Wuping has reported Hu was charged with accepting six million yuan (880,000 dollars) in bribes and Hu pleaded guilty, said Tao, who represents fellow defendant Liu Caikui. The charges carry a jail term of more than five years, Tao said. It is unclear from reports what the bribes were for or who paid the bribes.

We'll continue to keep an eye on this matter for you. The primary reason for our following this matter is the allegation of theft of China's "trade secrets" or "commercial secrets" in the iron ore negotiations. That aspect of the prosecution commences Tuesday.


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