Rio suspends senior executive after discovery of $13.5m Simandou mine payments – by Brian Robins (Sydney Morning Herald – November 9, 2016)

Global miner Rio Tinto has suspended one of its most senior executives following the discovery of large payments to a consultant who worked on the Simandou iron ore project in West Africa.

In a statement, the miner said it has suspended Mr Alan Davies, the company’s energy and minerals chief executive “with immediate effect”.

Legal and regulatory affairs group executive Debra Valentine, who sits with Mr Davies on the mining giant’s 10-member executive committee, has stepped aside from her role. She was due to retire on May 1, 2017. Rio said it has “notified the relevant authorities in the United Kingdom and the United States and is in the process of contacting the Australian authorities”.

It did not clarify what has transpired apart from saying that in late August it “became aware of email correspondence from 2011 relating to contractual payments totalling $US10.5 million [$13.5 million] made to a consultant providing advisory services on the Simandou project in Guinea”.

“The company launched an investigation into the matter led by external counsel,” it said. Mr Davies, who took control of Rio’s energy and minerals division earlier this year, had accountability for the Simandou project in 2011.

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