29 Mar 2010

Rio Tinto man to spend 10 years in Chinese jail

11:01 pm on 29 March 2010

A Chinese court has sentenced an Australian-Chinese executive of the global mining giant Rio Tinto to seven years in prison on charges of accepting bribes, and five years on charges of stealing commercial secrets.

The Shanghai Intermediate People's Court said Stern Hu, who headed Rio Tinto's iron ore operations in China, will serve 10 years.

Hu pleaded guilty to accepting bribes but disputed the amount of 6.46 million yuan ($US946,300) alleged by prosecutors.

Three other Rio Tinto executives were also sentenced to between seven and 14 years in prison on bribery and secrets charges.

Hu and Chinese colleagues Liu Caikui, Ge Minqiang and Wang Yong were arrested and detained in Shanghai eight months ago.

The ABC reports all have, to some extent, admitted that they took bribes.

At least one of them also reportedly admitted offering inducements for the secrets of Chinese steel companies.

Like the main hearing, only select observers were allowed inside the court when the judge reads out the verdicts. Most of the details of the case remain secret.

The four were arrested last July during contentious iron-ore contract talks between top mining companies and the steel industry in China. The talks collapsed.