We are sure it is a coincidence, coming as the news cycle today is swamped by the US elections — and especially the presidential poll — but RioTinto has just fessed up to a possible act of bribery involving a US$10.5 million payment of some doubt concerning the huge Simandou iron ore prospect in Guinea in West Africa (which Rio is now in the process of exiting):

“On 29 August 2016, Rio Tinto became aware of email correspondence from 2011 relating to contractual payments totalling US$10.5 million made to a consultant providing advisory services on the Simandou project in Guinea.

“The company launched an investigation into the matter led by external counsel. Based on the investigation to date, Rio Tinto has today notified the relevant authorities in the United Kingdom and United States and is in the process of contacting the Australian authorities.

“Energy & Minerals chief executive Alan Davies, who had accountability for the Simandou project in 2011, has been suspended with immediate effect.

“Legal & Regulatory Affairs group executive Debra Valentine, having previously notified the company of her intention to retire on 1 May 2017, has stepped down from her role.

“Rio Tinto intends to co-operate fully with any subsequent inquiries from all of the relevant authorities. Further comment at this time is therefore not appropriate.”

Davies is no junior Rio exec — he is a biggie. Earlier this year he was given control over the company’s energy and minerals divisions, and in 2011 he had accountability for the Simandou project. Seen any more trash taken out while all eyes are focused on the US? Drop us a line here.

Peter Fray

Save 50% on a year of Crikey and The Atlantic.

The US election is in a little over a month. It seems that there’s a ridiculous twist in the story, almost every day.

Luckily for new Crikey subscribers, we’ve teamed up with one of America’s best publications, The Atlantic for the election race. Subscribe now to make sense of it all, and you’ll get a year of Crikey (usually $199) and a year’s digital subscription to The Atlantic (usually $70AUD), BOTH for just $129.

Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey