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中国检方对力拓员工正式提起公诉-酷悠

China Indicts 4 Rio Tinto Employees: State Media-cuyoo

发布者:admin 时间:2020-02-15 01:23点击:
China formally indicted four executives of Anglo-Australian mining group Rio Tinto PLC on charges of corruption and obtaining commercial secrets, a case that has come to symbolize growing dismay in foreign boardrooms over Beijing's tactics as it quickly gathers global power.

An indictment handed up by Shanghai prosecutors alleges the mineral salesmen requested and accepted 'huge' bribes on multiple occasions from numerous Chinese steel enterprises. It also says they used 'improper' means to obtain commercial secrets that caused 'serious consequences' for the companies, according to a report Wednesday by state-run Xinhua news agency.

The report, though brief, offered the clearest statement in six months of China's allegations against Australian national Stern Hu and three Chinese colleagues, who were detained in July and formally arrested in August.

Beijing's relative silence on the matter has sparked unease internationally and among foreign executives in China. Some analysts have said that in the absence of evidence, the case could appear politically motivated.

The indictments, while not a surprise, add to the political challenge facing the administration of Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, which has been attempting a delicate balancing act between addressing domestic anger over the opacity of the Chinese action toward an Australian citizen, and trying to avoid disrupting wider relations with an increasingly important trading partner.

The Australian government has said since the employees were first detained that it had to let the case run its course. But it has continually asked that it be handled quickly.

The government had also said it had been kept informed and that it had made 'vigorous and active' representations to Chinese authorities. Officials at Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade declined to comment or confirm the report Thursday morning.

Rio Tinto, which has in the past denied wrongdoing by the company or its employees, declined to comment.

News that China intends to press on with the case may, in fact, lay the groundwork for a resolution. While a guilty verdict would likely inflame tensions, it could also mean a quick end to legal process, allowing diplomats to get involved, for instance, in requesting Mr. Hu be remanded to Australia.

The Rio case has worried the international business community because it broke amid tense relations between Rio and Chinese government-owned companies, which are Rio's largest customer for iron ore. The Chinese side objected in part to iron-ore prices that Rio and other suppliers were charging. China imported ore valued at $50.14 billion in 2009, second among imports to the $89 billion it spent on crude oil.

Lawyers for the three Chinese nationals-Wang Yong, Liu Caikui and Ge Minqiang-said they hadn't been officially informed of the indictments. Mr. Hu's lawyer hasn't been identified.

A police investigation ended last month and the case was handed over to Shanghai prosecutors. Xinhua said the case has been accepted by the Shanghai No. 1 Intermediate People's Court, but didn't provide a timeline for trials.

Rio's challenges come as other foreign companies recalculate the risks of doing business in China. Last month, Google Inc. threatened to walk away from the market after alleging that sophisticated efforts to break into its email system, as well as the Internet infrastructure of more than 20 other U.S. companies, originated in China.

This month, China threatened to retaliate against American companies that were part of a $6.4 billion U.S. government arms sale to Taiwan, adding a commercial dimension to a longstanding political wrangle with Washington over the island, which Beijing views as a renegade province. Among the companies is Boeing, which sold some $8 billion of commercial aircraft to China from 2006 to 2008. Boeing hasn't commented on China's threats, deferring all comment to the U.S. government.

The Rio case has raised the level of nervousness among some foreign business executives.

Some foreign mining companies are now asking for waivers before opening commercial negotiations with China that they hope will exempt their executives from any criminal prosecution stemming from performing their job duties, say people familiar with these companies. It is unclear how Chinese companies would be able to deliver such guarantees, even if they are in the state sector, given that they do not control the courts.

The indictments' timing came as a surprise to the defendants' attorneys. Mr. Ge's lawyer, Zhai Jian, said he had no indication that action was pending when he met earlier Wednesday with his jailed client, who the lawyer said appeared well physically and mentally. 'I am especially puzzled,' said Mr. Zhai, who heard about the indictments from news reports. 'Why is it that every time the media is telling me these things?'

Rio Tinto, meanwhile, has continued to post strong financial results in China, illustrating that the case hasn't fundamentally hurt its business.

The company has also taken steps to improve its relations in China. Last week, it tapped a longtime employee who opened the company's first China office 25 years ago and speaks fluent Mandarin, Ian Bauert, to fill the newly created position of managing director for China. 'Ian's experience and leadership will provide strategic direction and help guide all aspects of our engagement with China, one of our most important partners,' Rio Tinto Chief Executive Officer Tom Albanese said in a statement.

James T. Areddy
 本文涉及股票或公司
力拓股份有限公司
英文名称:Rio Tinto PLC (ADS)
总部地点:英国
上市地点:纽约证交所
股票代码:RTP
Rio Tinto Ltd.
总部地点:澳大利亚(Australia)
上市地点:澳大利亚证券交易所
股票代码:RIO
力拓股份有限公司
英文名称:Rio Tinto Plc
总部地点:英国
上市地点:伦敦
股票代码:RIO
国检方对英澳矿业集团力拓股份有限公司(Rio Tinto PLC)四位管理人员以受贿和侵犯商业秘密的罪名正式提起公诉。这一案件折射出,外资企业对北京在其全球势力迅速上升之际所采取的策略日益感到不安。

相关报导
专题:力拓在中国
上海市检察院指控,这几位矿产品销售人员多次索取并收受数家中国钢铁企业的“巨额”贿赂。据官方媒体新华社周三的一篇报道,检方还称,他们使用“不正当”手段获取商业秘密,给有关企业造成了“严重后果”。

报道虽然简短,却是六个月以来,中国对澳大利亚籍人士胡士泰(Stern Hu)及其三名中国籍同事所作指控的最清晰陈述。四人于去年七月份被拘留,八月份被正式逮捕。

北京方面对此案的相对沉默,曾在国际上、外企驻华管理人员中引起不安。一些分析人士曾表示,如果证据缺乏,此案可能会呈现为一种包含政治动机的案件。

公诉内容虽非出人意外,但也增加了澳大利亚总理陆克文(Kevin Rudd)所领导政府面临的政治压力。陆克文政府一直试图在两大因素间维持微妙的平衡:一方面,中国对一位澳大利亚籍公民采取不透明的措施,这引起了澳大利亚国内的民愤,政府需要应对;另一方面,陆克文政府还要努力避免打乱与一个越来越重要的贸易伙伴之间的全面关系。

力拓四位雇员首次被拘以来,澳大利亚政府就表示只能听其自然。但它也不断要求迅速处理此案。

澳大利亚政府还曾表示,中国方面一直在向它通报此案的相关消息,澳政府已向中国有关部门做了“有力而积极”的陈述。周四早晨,澳大利亚外交部拒绝对上述报道予以评论或证实。

Reuters
力拓高管胡士泰,照片拍摄日期不详
力拓公司也拒绝置评。该公司过去曾否认它自身及其员工有不当行为。

事实上,中国打算推进此案审理的消息,有可能为此事最终解决奠定基础。虽然有罪判决可能会引发中澳两国关系的紧张,但也有可能意味着法律程序会迅速结束,从而使外交人士得以介入,比如要求将胡士泰移交给澳大利亚。

力拓案曾让国际商界感到担忧,因为此案曝出之际,正值力拓与其最大的铁矿石主顾──多家中国国有企业之间的关系剑拔弩张之时。中国方面部分拒绝了力拓和其他供应商提出的铁矿石价格。2009年,中国进口铁矿石价值501.4亿美元,仅次于进口原油所花费的890亿美元。

王勇、刘才魁和葛民强等三名中国籍被告的律师说,他们尚未收到正式起诉通知。胡士泰的律师的身份没有公开。

警方的调查于上个月结束,案件被移交到上海的检察机关。新华社报导说,上海市第一中级人民法院已经受理此案,不过没有提供审判时间表。

力拓的挑战正值其他外国企业重新审视在华开展业务的风险。上个月,谷歌(Google Inc.)声称,试图攻击其电子邮件系统以及其他20多家美国企业的互联网基础设施的精密努力源于中国;之后该公司扬言要退出中国市场。

本月,中国扬言将对参与美国政府对台64亿美元军售的美国企业进行报复,给双方就台湾问题的长期政治争端再添商业色彩。其中包括波音公司(Boeing);从2006年至2008年,波音向中国出售了价值约80亿美元的民航飞机。该公司尚未对中国的威胁发表置评,而是将所有的置评都交给了美国政府。

力拓案令一些外国企业高管感到更加不安。

知情人士说,如今,在与中国进行商业谈判之前,一些外国矿业公司会要求享受豁免,他们希望这可以让他们的高管免受任何因行使工作职责而引发的刑事起诉。考虑到中国企业控制不了法院,目前还不清楚中国企业如何能够兑现这样的保证,即使是国有企业。

力拓员工受到起诉的时间出乎被告律师的意料。葛民强的律师翟建说,周三早些时候他与看守所中的当事人会面的时候,并没有迹象显示即将有所行动。翟建说,他的当事人看起来身体和精神都很好。翟建是从新闻报导中得知力拓员工被起诉一事的。他说,我特别困惑,为什么每次都是媒体来告诉我?

与此同时,力拓继续在华实现强劲业绩,显示出力拓案尚未在根本上损害力拓的业务。

力拓还采取了措施来改善在华关系。上周,该公司让25年前设立了力拓首个中国办事处、能说一口流利普通话的老将鲍谊安(Ian Bauert)出马担任新设立的中国董事总经理一职。力拓首席执行长艾博年(Tom Albanese)在声明中说,鲍谊安的经验和领导力将提供战略方向,帮助指导我们与最重要的合作伙伴之一中国之间关系的方方面面。

James T. Areddy

(更新完成)

 本文涉及股票或公司
力拓股份有限公司
英文名称:Rio Tinto PLC (ADS)
总部地点:英国
上市地点:纽约证交所
股票代码:RTP
Rio Tinto Ltd.
总部地点:澳大利亚(Australia)
上市地点:澳大利亚证券交易所
股票代码:RIO
力拓股份有限公司
英文名称:Rio Tinto Plc
总部地点:英国
上市地点:伦敦
股票代码:RIO
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