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May 18, 2010

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Court dismisses Rio trio appeal

THREE jailed former employees of mining giant Rio Tinto yesterday had their appeals rejected by the Shanghai Higher People's Court.

Jail terms ranging from seven to 14 years were upheld on charges of accepting bribes and stealing commercial secrets for Wang Yong, Ge Minqiang and Liu Caikui.

Stern Hu, an Australian national who once headed Rio Tinto's iron ore operations in China, did not appeal his 10-year prison sentence after the Shanghai No. 1 Intermediate People's Court announced its verdict on March 29.

Hu, who has returned all his ill-gotten gains, was also fined 1 million yuan (US$146,436) for accepting 6.46 million yuan in bribes and stealing business secrets.

Wang received the most severe sentence of 14 years and a fine of 5.2 million yuan for accepting 75 million yuan in bribes and stealing commercial secrets for personal gain.

Ge was jailed for eight years and fined 800,000 yuan, while Liu received seven years and a fine of 700,000 yuan.

Rio sacked the four after the verdict.

Yesterday's three appellants denied that they stole commercial secrets.

The four accepted bribes from medium and small Chinese steel companies in exchange for lining up preferential contracts, the court ruled.

They also used Rio's advantageous position in the iron ore trade to inquire about confidential meetings of the China Iron and Steel Association and iron ore prices Chinese steel companies desired in negotiations.

More than 20 Chinese steel firms prepaid 1.02 billion yuan more than they should have in 2009 for their iron ore imports because of the crimes committed by the four, the court heard.


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