Rio Tinto, the FTSE 100 mining company, reported itself to the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) over a $10.5m “consultancy payment” after it was confronted by a news website, despite having been aware of the issue for more than two months, according to The Times.
Rio Tinto announced on Tuesday that it had informed British and American authorities after emails emerged regarding a “consultancy payment”.
Alan Davies, head of diamonds and minerals, has been suspended, while Debra Valentine, director of legal and regulatory affairs, has stood down before her planned retirement next year.
Companies that report themselves rather than wait to be called out can receive more lenient treatment, but the SFO guidelines state that the disclosure must form part of a “genuinely proactive” approach.
However, French website Mediapart reported on Thursday that it put the allegations to Rio last Friday, following the discovery of the emails that were sent in 2011.
The emails were between Davies, the senior executive in charge of developing the Simandou project; Sam Walsh, head of the iron ore division at the time; and Tom Albanese, then group chief executive.
Walsh later became chief executive and left the business this year.
Albanese is now chief executive of Vedanta Resources.