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SEC Fines Rio Tinto Over Mining Rights Bribery Scheme

The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has fined global mining and metals firm Rio Tinto US$15 million for violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act in relation to a mining rights scheme. The violations arose from a bribery scheme involving a consultant, a former classmate of a Guinean government official, who Rio Tinto hired in July 2011 to help it retain mining rights in the country. Rio Tinto successfully retained the mining rights, with the consultant paid US$10.5 million for his work. The SEC’s investigation found that the consultant, acting as Rio Tinto’s agent, offered and attempted to make an improper payment of at least US$822,000 to the Guinean government official. The SEC also said none of the payments to the consultant were accurately reflected in Rio Tinto’s books and records, and the company failed to have sufficient internal accounting controls in place to detect or prevent misconduct. Rio Tinto agreed to pay the civil penalty without admitting or denying the SEC’s findings. 

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