China charges Rio Tinto Australia executive of commercial bribery

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Beijing, Aug.12 (ANI): Chinese prosecutors have charged Australian executive Stern Hu with commercial bribery, which means he could be facing up to seven years jail if found guilty by Beijing.

China's official news agency Xinhua said Hu and three Rio Tinto Chinese colleagues were charged late on Tuesday, six days after being detained in Shanghai.

According to the Xinhua website, prosecutors had approved the arrest of the four Rio Tinto workers, citing a statement by China's Supreme People's Procuratorate issued late yesterday.

According to the news.com.au web site, preliminary investigations have shown that the four employees, Stern Hu, Liu Caikui, Ge Minqiang and Wang Yong, had obtained commercial secrets of China's steel and iron industry through improper means, which had violated the country's criminal law.

Prosecutors had also found evidence to prove that they were involved in commercial bribery, it reported.

The Federal Government has indicated that charges against Hu have been downgraded from earlier claims that he had stolen state secrets.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) confirmed today that Beijing had informed the Australian Consulate-General in Shanghai late yesterday of the charges against the Rio Tinto executive.

Beijing had previously accused Hu of spying and stealing state secrets in the context of annual iron ore negotiations.

The episode has caused friction between Australia and China though both governments have denied it will have a major impact on the relationship. (ANI)

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