Four Rio Tinto executives have been found guilty of bribery and stealing secrets by a Chinese court.
In addition to being fined and having their assets confiscated, they were given hefty jail sentences. Australian Stern Hu was handed a 10-year sentence, Wang Yong 14 years, Liu Caikui seven years and Ge Minqiang eight years.
Stephen Smith, Australia's foreign minster, criticised the court for not allowing Australian diplomats access to the parts of the hearing which dealt with the commercial espionage charges.
"Whilst we do not condone bribery in any way, I think the sentence, on any measure, is harsh," he said, before adding that the sentence would not have an adverse effect on Australia's relationship with China.
Rio Tinto described its employees' behaviour as "deplorable" and announced it is dismissing those involved. The company has ordered an in-depth review of its processes and controls.
"[We] will spare no effort in doing everything we can to prevent any similar activity," it said in a statement.
During the course of the trial, the defendants admitted taking bribes, but disputed the amounts of money involved.
Hu was charged with accepting bribes of $900,000 ($600,000). He was given a seven-year sentence for bribery and five years for commercial secrets theft, reduced to 10 years in total.
He also had assets worth 500,000 yuan ($73,000; £49,000) confiscated and was fined the same amount.
Wang Yong was given 13 years for bribery and three for secrets theft, reduced to 14 years in jail. He was fined 200,000 yuan and assets worth 5m yuan were confiscated from him.
Liu Caikui was given five years for bribery and four for secrets theft, reduced to seven years. He was fined 400,000 yuan and had assets worth 300,000 yuan confiscated.
Ge Minqiang was handed a six-year sentence for bribery and three and a half years for secrets theft, reduced to eight in total. He was fined 300,000 yuan and had 500,000 worth of assets confiscated.
Australia's Consul-General Tom Connor told reporters that all the sentences would be backdated to 5 July 2009 when the four were first arrested.
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