Vale CFO Should Face Criminal Indictment for Dam, Panel Says – by Maria Luiza Rabello, Sabrina Valle and Vinicius Andrade (Bloomberg News – July 2, 2019)

A Brazilian Senate committee is expected to recommend that 12 current and former executives of Vale SA, including Chief Financial Officer Luciano Siani and ex-Chief Executive Officer Fabio Schvartsman, face criminal indictments for a fatal dam disaster in January.

The rapporteur of the committee proposed the indictments Tuesday after a 2-1/2-month congressional inquiry into the causes of the dam break that left at least 246 people dead and unleashed a sea of mud over the city of Brumadinho, where Vale had an inactive iron ore mine. His report says the company was negligent and its risk and compliance controls were flawed.

If approved, as expected, the report will be sent to several Brazilian authorities, including federal and state police and prosecutors, as well as the governor of Minas Gerais and the ministries of energy and environment.

The report, which will be voted on by the committee on July 9, has political weight and sends a message from lawmakers to their electorate, but it will be up to the authorities to decide on legal action.

“Vale respectfully disagrees with the recommendation for indictment,” it said in a statement Tuesday. “The company considers it necessary that a scientific and technical conclusion be reached on the cause of the disaster before criminal culpability is determined. Vale and its employees will continue to cooperate with authorities to determine the cause of the dam breach.”

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