RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) – Brazilian state prosecutors on Tuesday charged Fabio Schvartsman, the former chief executive of mining giant Vale SA, and 15 other people with homicide for a dam disaster last year that killed more than 250 people, according to the charging document seen by Reuters.
In addition to homicide charges, Vale and TUV SUD, the German company responsible for inspecting the dam, were charged with environmental crimes. Of the 16 individuals charged, 11 had worked for Vale and five for TUV SUD, prosecutors said.
The charges, which were presented nearly a year after the collapse of a Vale tailings dam in the state of Minas Gerais, represent a major step forward in Brazilian authorities’ attempt to hold individuals criminally responsible for the disaster.
In a televised press conference, prosecutors alleged Vale and TUV SUD systematically and intentionally hid information about safety issues at its tailings dams in the years leading up to the collapse.
“Vale, with the support of TUV SUD, produced a large amount of technical information about …various dams owned and managed by Vale, that were recognized, I repeat, internally recognized, as dams with an unacceptable risk profile,” said William Garcia Pinto Coelho, a prosecutor on the case.
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