Manager of Rio Tinto convicted to 10 years imprisonment

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Hard verdict: An Australian manager from Rio Tinto, a mining corporation marches to jail in China shocking the local foreign-economy.


Four of Rio Tinto managers, the Australian –British mining corporation- have been sentenced to 10 years jail on account of espionage and corruption.

Stern Hu, the Australian director of Rio-Tinto- offices in the Chinese economic metropolitan city Shanghai according to verdict is convicted to 10 years of imprisonment. Three Chinese employees have been arrested as well being sentenced to seven, eight and 14 years jail.

Behind locked doors

The court process took place last week behind locked doors. Stern Hu and his three accused colleagues had confessed one week before the hearing having been involved in acts corruption  however, rebuffing the extent of allegations against them. They have also been charged for having acquired secret information on mining and steelworks in China.

Arrest last July

The process counts as a test to examine the function of Chinese legal system dealing with foreign companies. Australia has requested a “transparent court process“ from China .It is known that foreign managers need to take a pragmatic course of action in China, otherwise they would generally not be able to finish their work. The verdict could therefore cause flurry to international enterprises.

All four of Rio-Tinto-employees were arrested in July last year. Back then, Chinese steelworks and steel manufacturing companies were negotiating with suppliers for raw material, amongst them was Rio Tinto about remission on the price of iron ore. Only a month ahead, an agreement regarding an increase of shareholding of the Chinese corporation Chinalco in favour of Rio Tinto has been shot down.

Australia: Severe punishment

Australia’s reaction towards conviction of the four accused was critical. At an Austrian scale, punishments are very severe although they are acknowledged by the Chinese legislative system, says foreign minister Stephen Smith.

Allegedly, some essential questions have remained open during the hearing. In Mr. Smith’s opinion, the impact on the relationship towards both countries will not be influenced. Whether this will apply in regard to the economic situation he adds, is still unknown for the time being. The minister has declared simultaneously that there was clear evidence on the misconduct of Tinto- employees.