4 Rio employees plead guilty on taking bribes

10:27, March 23, 2010      

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Australian Consul-general Tom Connor makes a statement outside a Shanghai court Monday.

Four Rio Tinto executives on trial in Shanghai all pleaded guilty to taking bribes, lawyers at the hearing said Monday.

Australian Stern Hu and three Chinese employees of giant miner Rio, including Wang Yong, Liu Caikui, Ge Minqiang, faced prosecutors in a Shanghai court Monday, accused of taking bribes and violating commercial secrets.

"Stern Hu definitely pleaded guilty (to the bribery charges)", Tao Wuping, the lawyer for co-accused Liu, told Reuters after the hearing.

Tom Connor, the Australian Consul General in Shanghai who attended the hearing, told reporters that Hu was accused of taking bribes worth 1 million yuan (US$146,500) as well as US$790,000.

"Mr Hu made some admissions concerning some of those bribery amounts, so he did acknowledge the truth of some of those bribery amounts," Connor said.

Lawyers for the three Chinese defendants said their clients also acknowledged taking bribes.

"Part of the charge should not constitute a crime," lawyer Tao said, referring to his client, Liu, who was charged with receiving 3.7 million yuan in bribes.

Wang Yong admitted he was "guilty in part", his lawyer, Zhang Peihong, said.

The trial is scheduled to continue until Wednesday, with the commercial secrets charges likely to be heard later, said the lawyers.

While the trial was opening in Shanghai, Rio chief executive Tom Albanese signaled to an audience in Beijing that he did not want to jeopardize business ties with China, the world's biggest consumer of iron ore, said Reuters.

"This issue is obviously of great concern to us," Albanese told a forum of officials and executives, referring to the case."I can only say we respectfully await the outcome of the Chinese legal process," he told the forum.

Albanese said "we remain committed to strengthening our relationship with China, not just because you are our biggest customer, but because we see long-term business advantages for both of us".

By People's Daily Online
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