China Sentences 4 Rio Tinto Employees To Jail

A Chinese court sentenced four employees of mining giant Rio Tinto with jail terms of seven to 14 years on bribery and commercial secrets charges. The judge said the crimes committed by the four had caused major losses to the Chinese steel industry.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

NPR's business news starts with China sending a foreign executive to prison.

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MONTAGNE: A court in Shanghai has sentenced four executives of an international mining company to jail. One was an Australian citizen. The men were working for the mining giant Rio Tinto. The case has riveted foreign business community in China.

NPR's Louisa Lim was in the courtroom, and has this report.

LOUISA LIM: Australian Stern Hu gave no visible reaction when his sentence of 10 years in prison was read out. Foreign journalists have been allowed to watch the verdict on closed circuit television. Hu and three Chinese Rio Tinto employees were found guilty of accepting bribes and violating commercial secrets. The longest sentence was 14 years, handed down to an employee found guilty of taking $9 million in bribes.

In the matter of commercial secrets, the court said the men had collected information about closed meetings held by the China Iron and Steel Association. It said the actions of the four Rio Tinto employees had caused losses of $150 million to China's steel industry and seriously damaged its competitiveness.

Louisa Lim, NPR News, Shanghai.

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