Chinese authorities have completed their investigations of Rio Tinto executive Stern Hu and his three Chinese colleagues accused of espionage.
However, it remains unknown when and if Hu will face trial as formal charges are yet to be laid.
Hu, the head of Rio Tinto’s iron operations in China, was arrested along with his sales team of Ge Minqiang, Liu Caikui and Wang Yong on 5 July 2009.
The four men were initially accused of stealing state secrets and giving bribes, which was later reduced to attaining commercial secrets and receiving bribes.
A spokesperson for the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) stated that the case is now in the hands of the Shanghai People’s Procuratorate (prosecutor), and that details of the actual charges are unlikely to be known until the prosecutor has made a decision on whether the case will proceed to trial.
Rio Tinto Iron Ore chief executive Sam Walsh released a statement, saying it would not be appropriate to comment any further at this point other than to reaffirm our hope that matters proceed in an expeditious and transparent manner.
Chinese officials are yet to release details of the investigation with the four accused, their lawyers, Rio Tinto or the Australian Government.