17 Mar 2010 14:05

China sets March 22nd trial date for Rio Tinto employees

Shanghai. March 17. INTERFAX-CHINA - The Shanghai Number One Intermediate Court will hear the formal charges against the four Rio Tinto employees currently detained by Chinese authorities and commence their trial on March 22, Rio announced on March 17.

The hearings in relation to charges of bribery will be held in open court, while the hearings in regard to the charge of stealing commercial secrets will be held in closed court, according to the announcement.

Rio Tinto said it hopes for a transparent trial process for its employees.

In July 2009, the Chinese Public Security Bureau (PSB) detained the four Rio Tinto iron ore department employees - Stern Hu, Wang Yong, Ge Minqiang, and Liu Caikui - for allegedly disclosing trade secrets and engaging in bribery. Hu, Rio Tinto's former chief representative in China and general manager of the company's iron ore sales in China, is an Australian citizen.

In relation to the same case, an employee from Laiwu Iron and Steel Group (Laigang) and an employee Shoudu Iron and Steel Group (Shougang) have also been charged by Chinese authorities, according to previous Interfax reports.