Australia’s corporate watchdog is taking mining giant Rio Tinto and two former executives to court over the global miner’s “misleading and deceptive conduct” in reporting the coal reserves of a Mozambique mine purchased for $4 billion.
The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) launched the court action Friday against Rio Tinto, former Chief Executive Tom Albanese and former Chief Financial Officer Guy Elliott.
“ASIC alleges that RTL (Rio Tinto Ltd) engaged in misleading or deceptive conduct by publishing statements in the 2011 annual report, signed by Mr. Albanese and Mr. Elliott, misrepresenting the reserves and resources of RTCM (Rio Tinto Coal Mozambique),” the watchdog said in a statement.
Rio Tinto bought the mine in 2011 for $4 billion and wrote off $3.5 billion in loses several years later when it sold the mine. The mining company fired Albanese and Elliott over their involvement with the sale.
ASIC said in a statement, “... by allowing RTL (Rio Tinto Limited) to engage in such conduct, Mr. Albanese and Mr. Elliott failed to exercise their powers and discharge their duties with the care and diligence required by law as directors and officers of RTL.”
ASIC wants the court to fine the two former Rio Tinto executives and bar them from managing corporations “for such periods as the court thinks fit.”
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission charged the mining giant and the two executives with fraud last year over similar allegations.
Rio Tinto said last year the U.S. charges were “unwarranted.”
The company did not immediately respond to the Australian charges.