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SFO investigating Rio Tinto

Jaclyn Jaeger | July 25, 2017

The U.K. Serious Fraud Office confirmed this week it has opened an investigation into suspected corruption by mining company Rio Tinto.

The SFO said the conduct concerns “business in the Republic of Guinea by Rio Tinto group, its employees, and others associated with it.”

As Compliance Week previously reported, Rio Tinto said in a securities filing last year that it became aware on 29 August 2016 of e-mail correspondence from 2011 relating to contractual payments totalling US$10.5 million made to a consultant providing advisory services on the Simandou project in Guinea.

Rio Tinto said it launched an investigation into the matter, led by external counsel. The company said it also notified relevant authorities in the United Kingdom, United States, and Australia.

Rio Tinto also disclosed in the SEC filing that it had suspended Energy & Minerals chief executive Alan Davies, who had accountability for the Simandou project in 2011. Legal & Regulatory Affairs group executive Debra Valentine, having previously notified the company of her intention to retire on 1 May 2017, stepped down from her role.

In its filing, Rio Tinto said it “intends to co-operate fully with any subsequent inquiries from all of the relevant authorities” and no further comment.