Rio Tinto’s Hu sentenced to 10 years jail

Stern Hu, the Australian executive who led Rio Tinto Group’s China iron ore unit, was sentenced by a court in Shanghai, China, to 10 years jail after being found guilty of taking bribes from steel mills and infringing commercial secrets.

His colleagues Liu Caikui, Wang Yong and Ge Minqiang were also found guilty and sentenced to between 7 and 14 years, Chief Judge Liu Xin said in the Shanghai No. 1 Intermediate People’s Court after a three-day trial last week. The four will be fired, the London-based, dual-listed company said in statement quoted by Bloomberg.

Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith said Hu’s sentence, while “harsh,” won’t have any substantial effect on relations between his country and its biggest trading partner. The case has frayed ties between the two nations, coming after Rio last year rejected a $19.5 billion investment from China and iron ore price talks with Chinese mills stalled.

The four executives pleaded guilty to receiving 92.18 million yuan ($13.5 million) between them in bribes. Some of the defendants contested the amounts cited by the prosecution.