Rio Tinto Group

Rio Tinto duo appeal against bribery and theft convictions

PUBLISHED : Monday, 05 April, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 05 April, 2010, 12:00am

Two of the four Rio Tinto employees jailed by a Shanghai court last week after a closed-door trial are appealing against their convictions for accepting bribes and theft of commercial secrets.

Lawyers representing mainland citizens Wang Yong, who received a 14-year prison sentence, and Liu Caikui, who was jailed for seven years, said both men were filing appeals, Agence France-Presse reported over the weekend.

Australian citizen Stern Hu and mainlander Ge Minqiang-who received jail terms of 10 years and eight years respectively-were also likely to appeal within 10 days of last Monday's sentencing, according to a separate report in the Economic Observer, a mainland weekly.

The case of the four mainland-based employees of mining giant Rio Tinto has attracted global attention since they were taken into custody in July. It also highlighted growing tensions over the pricing of iron ore between China, the world's biggest consumer of the commodity, and the three firms that dominate global production: Vale of Brazil and Australia's Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton.

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said last week there were 'serious unanswered questions' about the conviction of Hu. He criticised the closed-door proceedings, saying Beijing 'missed an opportunity' to demonstrate more transparency.

The four Rio staff caused losses of 1.02 billion yuan (HK$1.16 billion) to more than 20 Chinese steelmakers by stealing commercial secrets, the Shanghai court's verdict said last week.

Chinese firms involved in paying bribes in the case may also face legal repercussions, according to the Economic Observer report. It said those involved included Beijing Shougang Corp, Guofeng Iron and Steel, Laiwu Steel Group, Rizhao Steel Group, Tianjin Rongcheng Steel Group and a trading arm of Sinochem Group.

Rizhao Steel chairman Du Shuanghua, also implicated in the case, was instructed to remain in Shandong province, the report said.