Melbourne, July 17 (ANI): Australian mining giant Rio Tinto has said that the allegations that some of its employees in China have been engaged in bribery are "wholly without foundation".
Chinese authorities claim four employees of the world's third-biggest miner bribed Chinese steel mills officials during annual iron ore contract price negotiations.
Rio Tinto iron ore chief Sam Walsh today bluntly denied the allegations and said the group was continuing to operate in China.
"Rio Tinto believes that the allegations in recent media reports that employees were involved in bribery of officials at Chinese steel mills are wholly without foundation," news.com.au quoted him as saying in a statement.
"We remain fully supportive of our detained employees, and believe that they acted at all times with integrity and in accordance with Rio Tinto's strict and publicly stated code of ethical behaviour. Rio Tinto remains very concerned about the four employees detained in Shanghai," he added.
The company said that the Australian Government is keeping it fully briefed on efforts to assist the employees, which include Australian citizen Stern Hu.
China's official China Daily newspaper recently claimed the Rio Tinto employees had bribed executives from all 16 of the country's major steel mills.
The report said they targeted key officials from firms which negotiate iron ore prices with large foreign suppliers.
Rio Tinto, the world's second-largest iron ore producer, has been taking the lead role in negotiations to determine a new contract price for iron ore.
The stakes are high because once agreed, the world's other large iron ore producers typically adopt the contract price.
The dealings have been more protracted than ever before, with Chinese negotiators demanding a better deal than other major Asian and European customers have accepted. (ANI)