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Stern Hu receives 10 year sentence -

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Stern Hu receives 10 year sentence

Broadcast: 29/03/2010

Reporter: Stephen McDonell

A Chinese court has sentenced Australian Rio Tinto executive Stern Hu to 10 years in prison for
corruption and industrial espionage.


LEIGH SALES, PRESENTER: Rio Tinto has sacked Stern Hu and the three other Chinese executives found
guilty in a Shanghai court today of accepting bribes and stealing commercial secrets.

Stern Hu was given two sentences of five and seven years and will serve a combined 10 years in

His three Chinese colleagues were given sentences ranging from seven to 14 years.

The Australian Government has said it accepts the verdict but describes the sentence as harsh.

China correspondent Stephen McDonell watched as the verdict was handed down.

STEPHEN MCDONELL, CHINA CORRESPONDENT: It was widely expected the four would not get very much jail
time because they'd made certain admissions in court.

But Australian Stern Hu has received a whopping 10 year jail term.

His three colleagues are also joining him in prison. Liu Caikui got seven years, Ge Mingqiang eight
and Wang Yong 14 years in jail.

TOM CONNOR, AUSTRALIAN CONSUL-GENERAL IN SHANGHAI: In the case of all four of the persons sentenced
today, the sentences will start from the 5th of July 2009, which I understand was the date on which
they were initially detained.

STEPHEN MCDONELL: Finally we were allowed inside the court today and we heard the judge blame the
Rio Tinto team for the collapse of the 2009 iron ore price negotiations.

He said that Rio Tinto had seriously damaged the competitive interests of Chinese steel companies.

The Australian Government had promised a considered response to the whole trial process once the
verdicts were handed down. And tonight, Foreign Minister Stephen Smith spoke to the ABC.

STEPHEN SMITH, FOREIGN MINISTER: I've made it clear on the bribery conviction that Australian
officials were in the room at the time.

My advice is that there was considerable evidence leading on its face to the conclusion that
bribery acts had occurred.

But I do believe the sentence there is harsh. Certainly harsh by Australian standards. The
difficulty comes - and you asked a question about transparency.

The difficulty comes with the second charge, the commercial secrets to which our officials were not
given access.

That's very regrettable and that leaves, I think, a series of unanswered questions not just for
Australia but for the international business community.

JULIE BISHOP, OPPOSITION FOREIGN AFFAIRS SPOKESWOMAN: This lack of transparency creates uncertainty
for Australian people and Australian businesses In China.

And we do call on the Australian Government to clarify with the Chinese authorities as soon as
possible what information gives rise to a charge of commercial secrets in China.

STEPHEN MCDONELL: Mining giant Rio Tinto, the company that employed these four men, also released a
statement tonight.

(Excerpt from Rio Tinto statement)

VOICEOVER: Receiving bribes is a clear violation of Chinese law and Rio Tinto's code of conduct,
the way we work.

We have been informed of the clear evidence presented in court that showed beyond doubt that the
four convicted employees had accepted bribes.

By doing this, they engaged in deplorable behaviour that is strongly at odds with our strong
ethical culture. In accordance with our policies, we will terminate their employment.

STEPHEN MCDONELL: Tonight Stern Hu and his three colleagues left the court in separate prison vans,
in a convoy which was presumably heading to jail. They have 10 days in which to lodge their appeal,
starting from tomorrow.

Stephen McDonell, Lateline.