The release of the email trail involving three Rio Tinto executives discussing a $US10.5 million payment to a French consultant close to the government of Guinea in 2011 has failed to reveal a smoking gun.
The lack of any evidence of covert corruption will serve to deepen the mystery surrounding Rio’s decision to refer the matter to the US Department of Justice, US Securities and Exchange Commission, the UK’s Serious Fraud Office and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission.
Rio said in its initial announcement on Wednesday that once the emails were brought to its attention the company “launched an investigation into the matter led by external counsel”.
Following that investigation the company suspended its head of energy and minerals, Alan Davies, who had accountability for the Simandou project in 2011. Also, Rio’s head of legal and regulatory, Debra Valentine, brought forward her retirement by six months and immediately stepped down.
The African payment probe has now dragged in two former chief executives, Tom Albanese and Sam Walsh. Albanese and Walsh are on the email trail made public on Thursday. The exchange of emails includes a discussion of the amount of money paid to consultant Francois de Combret.
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