Stern Hu, the Rio Tinto (RIO.ASX, RIO.LSE) executive accused of bribery and stealing commercial secrets, was sentenced to 10 years in prison on Monday, the Los Angeles Times reported. Hu and his three likewise-accused Chinese colleagues admitted to accepting US$13.6 million in bribes from private steel mills trying to avoid purchasing iron ore at higher prices from state-run mills. According to Chinese officials, the actions of Hu and his co-workers cost Chinese companies US$150 million in 2009. The four men have been cumulatively fined US$1.1 million; the other three defendants face prison sentences ranging from 7-14 years. While the arrests were initially assumed to be backlash after the Australian government blocked state-owned Chinalco’s (ACH.NYSE, 2600.HK) US$19.5 billion investment in Rio Tinto, the two companies have moved past the trial and are currently in discussions to develop iron-ore reserves in West Africa.
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