2010年3月27日土曜日

リオ・ティント 有罪認める

リオ・ティントが有罪を認めた。
 中国の鉄鋼メーカーの業務機密を不正入手したなどとして英豪系資源
大手リオ・ティントの上海駐在幹部ら4人が起訴された事件の審理が、
上海の人民法院で終わった。
 被告の弁護士によると、4人はいずれも有罪を認めた。

審理は一部の外交官を除き、外国報道陣には非公開とされた。
有罪が確定すれば最高で禁固7年の判決が言い渡されるらしい。

嫌疑は、1350万ドルのワイロを提供し、企業秘密を不正に受取ったとの
ことだが、容疑者の一部は、贈賄は否定し、企業秘密不正入手は認めた
らしい。
リオ・ティントは就業規則が厳格なので、贈収賄はありえないと発表。
贈賄と不正入手は贈賄の方が刑が厳しいと言う意味か。
豪中で何を取引したか不明。
この判決で、国家間の問題はなくなり、今後も豪中関係は順調と言う。

中国 産業スパイ摘発強化
中国 豪企業幹部拘束
中国 リオ被害10兆円主張


---上海で企業機密不正入手の審理終了、被告罪認める 英豪資源大手---
2010.03.24 Web posted at: 19:14 JST Updated - CNN
http://www.cnn.co.jp/business/CNN201003240021.html

北京(CNN) 中国の鉄鋼メーカーの業務機密を不正入手したなどとして英オーストラリア系資源大手リオ・ティントの上海駐在幹部ら4人が起訴された事件の審理が24日、上海の人民法院で終わった。判決公判の日取りは不明。

被告の弁護士によると、4人はいずれも有罪を認めた。審理は22日始まり、一部の外交官を除き、外国報道陣には非公開とされた。

昨年7月に逮捕された4人は、中国人系のオーストラリア人幹部と現地採用の3人。企業機密の不正入手で有罪が確定すれば最高で禁固7年の判決が言い渡される可能性がある。同社は当初、無罪を主張していた。

中国側は最初、国家機密の不正入手の罪で立件したが、数カ月後に企業機密の窃盗罪に切り替えた。検察側は、鉄鋼メーカーの幹部16人に贈賄を働き掛け、機密を盗んだと主張した。

事件発覚前、リオ・ティントは中国非鉄大手の中国アルミニウムからの出資受け入れの取り止めを発表。出資については、中国による資源メジャーの株式買収について豪州内で保護主義的な懸念も強まっていた。リオ・ティント社員の逮捕はこの後に起きたもので、両国間の外交摩擦に発展すると共に、中国内で外国企業が直面する政治絡みのリスクを示す事例としても取り上げられた。

オーストラリア外務省当局者は4人の起訴を受け、裁判が迅速かつ透明な環境で実施されることを望むとの声明を出していた。


---Rio Shares Hit 18-Month High on Ore, Shrug Off Trial (Update3)---
March 25, 2010, 1:29 AM EDT
By Jesse Riseborough
http://www.businessweek.com/news/2010-03-25/rio-shares-hit-18-month-high-on-ore-shrug-off-trial-update3-.html

March 25 (Bloomberg) -- Rio Tinto Group reached an 18-month high in London trading as investors shrugged off the guilty pleas this week by four executives at their trial in China and focus on surging iron ore prices.

The trial of the four iron ore employees, including Australian Stern Hu, wrapped up in Shanghai yesterday after a three-days. Their arrest last year frayed relations between London-based Rio, the world’s third-largest mining company, and China, its biggest customer.

“It’s uncertainty that has been removed and now Rio can go back to running their business properly,” Olivia Ker, a London- based analyst with UBS AG, said by phone. “Relations with the Chinese are starting to improve. Rio Tinto is the best global play on iron ore, that’s the key driver of the stock.”

Morgan Stanley today raised its 2010-2012 earnings forecast for Rio, the world’s second-largest iron ore exporter, by as much as 14 percent as Rio said the benchmark system of setting prices is “broken.” Chief Executive Officer Tom Albanese visited China this week after signing an iron ore venture accord with state-owned Aluminum Corp. of China, signaling reconciliation between Rio and its biggest shareholder.

Shares of Rio rose 1.4 percent to close at 3,877.5 pence in London trading yesterday, the highest since Sept. 2, 2008. The company’s Sydney-traded stock rose 1.8 percent, reversing an earlier drop, to A$78.62 at the 4:10 p.m. local time on the Australian stock exchange. The benchmark index fell 0.1 percent.

Ore Pricing

BHP Billiton Ltd. and Vale SA are moving to end the four- decade-old system of annual iron ore pricing and Rio may agree to settle contracts on a quarterly basis because the system is “broken,” Sam Walsh, head of the company’s iron ore business, said in an interview in Singapore yesterday. Talks are proceeding with Rio’s customers, Walsh said.

Hu, Liu Caikui, Wang Yong and Ge Minqiang were charged with bribery and infringing commercial secrets. They received 92.18 million yuan ($13.5 million) between them in bribes and pleaded guilty, China’s state news agency Xinhua reported, citing court documents.

Liu also pleaded guilty to the commercial secrets charges, his lawyer Tao Wuping said yesterday, adding a verdict may come within a month. Wang and Ge pleaded not guilty to the commercial secrets charge, Wang’s lawyer Zhang Peihong and Ge’s lawyer Zhai Jian said yesterday. Hu also pleaded not guilty to the charge, The Age newspaper reported, citing Zhang. He declined to confirm the report.

Strict Code

“All of the defendants said their company was unaware of the bribing issues before they were detained,” lawyer Tao said in an interview. “That’s for sure because such a large company has very strict working code. Bribery is not accepted.”

Some of the defendants contested the amounts cited by the prosecution in the bribery charges, Tao said.

Rio’s auditors didn’t find evidence the company supported any illegal activity and it couldn’t have been aware of any alleged misbehavior under normal circumstances in relation to its Chinese operations, the Australian newspaper said yesterday, without citing anyone. Rio ordered the audit after the employees were detained, the newspaper reported.

Relations between China and Australia are also improving and the Hu case hasn’t stopped supply and takeover deals. Australian Energy Minister Martin Ferguson went to Beijing this week for the signing of his nation’s largest export deal, with China National Offshore Oil Corp. agreeing to buy as much as $80 billion of liquefied natural gas from BG Group Plc’s Queensland Curtis venture.

‘Strong Trade’

The two nations’ broader economic relationship hasn’t been affected, Australian Trade Minister Simon Crean told Bloomberg television in an interview today. “The evidence of that is the big deal being signed yesterday. Trade is very strong.”

The trial is “just an individual business case” that “should not have a negative impact on Australia-China relations,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang told reporters in Beijing last week. Australian gas producer Arrow Energy Ltd. this week accepted a A$3.5 billion ($3.2 billion) joint takeover offer from Royal Dutch Shell Plc and PetroChina Co.

The detention of the four in July came amid deadlocked iron ore pricing talks, which Rio led for the producers, and Chinese steel mills. The cash, or spot, price of iron ore paid by the mills more than doubled in the past 12 months.

Contract iron ore prices may rise 65 percent this year amid stronger-than-expected demand from steel mills in China, JPMorgan Chase & Co. said this month. Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc raised its 2010 earnings-per-share forecast for Rio 31 percent in a report this month after lifting its ore forecast.

Chinese steelmakers, the biggest buyers of iron ore, last year failed to reach an annual price agreement with Rio, deeming the 33 percent price cut offered as insufficient. Cash prices into China have risen to at least the highest in 14 months.

--With assistance from Helen Yuan and Gemma Daley in Canberra. Editors: Keith Gosman, Andrew Hobbs.

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