From: AFP February 10, 2010 8:08PM
CHINA has charged four Rio Tinto employees with violating bribery and trade secret laws, state Xinhua news agency reports.
The group of four, which includes Australian passport holder Stern Hu, allegedly ``used their positions to obtain benefits for others and on many occasions solicited or accepted bribes'', the report said today.
It said the accused had also ``on many occasions obtained the trade secrets of Chinese steel companies, leading to serious consequences for the relevant steel companies.''
The case will be heard in a Shanghai court, it added, but no date was given.
Mr Hu and his three Chinese colleagues were detained last July and were initially accused of stealing state secrets, in a case that badly strained Beijing's ties with Canberra.
The accusations were later watered down.
The Australian national's arrest also raised questions about business deals with rapidly industrialising China, the world's biggest iron ore consumer.
It came just weeks after Rio Tinto snubbed a massive cash injection from a Chinese state firm, and coincided with annual iron ore contract talks. The tense negotiations later collapsed.
For legal reasons, comments cannot be published on this matter.