Rio workers indicted by the Chinese

CHINA has indicted four employees of Anglo-Australian mining giant Rio Tinto on charges of bribery and stealing business secrets, setting the stage for a trial in the case that has jangled investor nerves.

The four who are set to stand trial in Shanghai include Australian citizen Stern Hu, state news agency Xinhua said yesterday.

If found guilty, they could face up to seven years in jail on the commercial secrets charge, and up to 20 years on the bribery charge.

The indictments will open another chapter in the case that has tested ties with Australia and unnerved mining companies and foreign investors in China, worried about pitfalls in the world’s third biggest
economy, where state power is never far from the negotiating table.

In the Rio case, the Shanghai prosecutor said the four badly hurt Chinese steelmakers were seeking to benefit unnamed “others”.

Hu, Rio Tinto’s lead iron ore negotiator in China, and three other staff from China were arrested last July and remain in detention. The three accused Chinese nationals are Liu Caikui, Ge Minqiang and Wang Yong.

The news report did not specify what “secrets” the men are accused of obtaining. Chinese law allows for a broad interpretation of what counts as secret.