The Shanghai Number One Intermediate People’s Court has convicted the four Shanghai employees detained on July 5, 2009, on charges of receiving bribes and obtaining commercial secrets. Rio Tinto is unable to comment on the charge regarding obtaining commercial secrets, as it has not had the opportunity to consider the evidence. That part of the trial was held in closed court and no details of the case were made public until the verdicts and sentences were announced.
“Receiving bribes is a clear violation of Chinese law and Rio Tinto’s code of conduct, The Way We Work,” said Sam Walsh, chief executive of Rio Tinto Iron Ore. “We have been informed of the clear evidence presented in court that showed beyond doubt that the four convicted employees had accepted bribes. By doing this they engaged in deplorable behavior that is totally at odds with our strong ethical culture. In accordance with our policies we will terminate their employment.
“Shortly after the four employees were detained, we appointed independent forensic accountants and lawyers to assist us in carrying out an internal investigation into the claims. This was done to the fullest extent possible. It did not uncover any evidence to substantiate the allegations of wrongdoing. Rio Tinto has concluded that the illegal activities were conducted wholly outside our systems.
“We have already implemented a number of improvements to our procedures, and we have now ordered a further far-reaching independent review of our processes and controls. We will introduce any necessary additional measures and safeguards the review recommends and will spare no effort in doing everything we can to prevent any similar activity.”
Tom Albanese, Rio Tinto’s chief executive, said, “All our employees are required to adhere to our strict policies on how we do business, and to abide by the laws of the countries where we operate. Ethical behavior is at the heart of everything we do. We have earned a strong reputation for our ethics through our long track record of responsible business practice.
“I am determined that the unacceptable conduct of these four employees will not prevent Rio Tinto from continuing to build its important relationship with China. This is a high priority for me personally. I would like to thank all those who have supported us through this very difficult time, particularly the Australian government.”
Rio Tinto’s website is located at www.riotinto.com