Rio Tinto managing director Jean-Sebastien Jacques has told “shell-shocked” staff that he called an investigation the day he found out about potential issues relating to a leaked email exchange between his predecessors Sam Walsh and Tom Albanese over a $US10.5 million payment to a consultant working on the Simandou iron ore project in Guinea.
In his first comments since Rio first made an announcement on the emails, the new Rio chief said company systems and controls had been strengthened since the 2011 payment was made and that Rio’s culture and values were “fundamentally strong”.
In the email to staff on Sunday, Mr Jacques warned that investigations could last several years. The company last week reported itself to anti-corruption agencies in the US, Britain and Australia after the release of the emails sparked an internal review.
“I am fully aware that this week’s announcement regarding Simandou came a surprise and many people across Rio Tinto are still shell-shocked,” Mr Jacques, who replaced Mr Walsh in July, said in the email.
“We are facing a very challenging situation where the Rio Tinto organisation would like to better understand what has happened, and at the same time we are constrained in what we can share due to the fact the matter is with the US, British and Australian agencies.”
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