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Rio Tinto sacks two executives over West Africa payment scandal

Updated: 2016-11-18 10:55

    Global mining giant Rio Tinto on Thursday sacked Energy & Minerals chief executive Alan Davies and Legal & Regulatory Affairs Group executive Debra Valentine over their roles in a West Africa payment scandal.

    Rio said the decision was based on the initial findings of a company investigation into dealings with a consultant, who helped Rio with its operations at the massive Simandou iron ore deposit in Guinea, in West Africa.

    Davies and Valentine, two of its ten most senior executives, were stood aside last week after Rio alerted corporate regulators in Australia, the United States and the Britain.

    Internal emails between Davies, in charge of the Simandou operation at the time, and former chief executives Sam Walsh and Tom Albanese have revealed discussions of a 10.5-million-U.S.-dollar payments to a Guinea political advisor made as Rio finalised access to the iron ore deposit.

    "The board's decision does not pre-judge the course of any external inquiries into this matter," Rio said in a statement to the ASX.

    "However, the board concluded that the executives failed to maintain the standards expected of them under our global code of conduct."

    Davies however said Rio has "no grounds for the termination of my employment" and he would take the "strongest possible legal action in response."

    "I have not been privy to Rio Tinto's internal investigation report, nor have I had any evidence of the reasons for my termination of my employment given," Davis said in a statement, adding he has not had the opportunity to respond to the allegations.

    Davies will be replaced by Bold Baatar, current vice president of Iron Ore Sales and Marketing who worked with current chief executive Jean Sebastien (J-S) Jacques while head of company's copper division. Chief Financial Officer Chris Lynch will take on Valentine's role untill a new chief legal cousel is found, the company said.


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