Four Rio Tinto executives pleaded guilty in Shanghai court Monday to taking bribes. They are Stern Hu, an Australian executive, and three Chinese coworkers, Liu Caikui, Ge Minqiang and Wang Yong. Previously they had denied the allegations. In a closed court session Tuesday, they faced charges of stealing commercial secrets. Since they were formally arrested in August 2009, China has not revealed details of the allegations, but the AP reports that the charges may be connected to Rio Tinto's pricing negotiations with state-owned steel mills, which fell apart last year shortly before the arrests.
"The Rio Tinto case is seen by many working in China business as a signal that the Communist-ruled government is subjecting foreign companies to increasingly close scrutiny, raising the risks of running afoul of secrecy rules that are themselves kept secret."
Also on Tuesday, the Justice Department alleged Daimler AG paid bribes to officials of at least 22 foreign governments from 1998 to 2008. The DOJ filed charges of conspiracy and violating of the FCPA against Daimler AG and three subsidiaries. According to the AP, the payments were allegedly made to secure contracts with governments for Daimler vehicles. The DOJ alleges the payments were transmitted through the use of offshore bank accounts, deceptive pricing arrangements and third-party intermediaries.