SHANGHAI - The "Rio 4", former employees of Australian mining giant Rio Tinto, have been sentenced by a Chinese court to jail terms of between seven and 14 years. They were arrested in July 2009 and charged with bribery and the theft of state commercial secrets.
The case drew international attention as political speculation heated up. Some suggested the Chinese wanted to punish Rio Tinto for raising iron ore prices. Others suggested the case was in retaliation for political problems between Australia and China.
Of the four Rio employees, only one, Stern Hu, is an Australian citizen. He received a 14-year sentence. The others received sentences of between seven and 10 years. Rio Tinto has terminated the employment of all four men, saying that it was proven they had accepted bribes from Chinese steel mills.
Rio Tinto's press release on the matter is posted at www.RioTinto.com.