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Ex-Rio Tinto Executive Stern Hu Released From Jail In China

Former Rio Tinto plc. (RTPPF.PK,RIO.L,RIO,RTNTF.PK) executive Stern Hu, who was jailed in China for bribery, was freed from prison on Wednesday.

Mr. Hu, the Australian who previously spearheaded sales for Rio Tinto in China, was in 2010 found guilty of charges he accepted around $935,000 in bribes from steelmakers and stole commercial secrets that undermined China's steel industry.

Mr. Hu was the main defendant in a closely watched case against four Rio Tinto employees that dramatically swung from accusations of espionage to admissions of bribery over iron-ore sales.

In 2010, Rio Tinto, which had initially defended its employees, fired the four of them after it found there was clear evidence they had taken bribes.

The group--comprising Mr. Hu and three subordinates, Chinese nationals Wang Yong, Ge Minqiang and Liu Caikui--was accused of steering iron-ore shipments to more than a dozen Chinese steelmakers in exchange for payments. Mr. Hu admitted he accepted bribes on two occasions from steelmakers.

Mr. Hu was ordered to pay fines of 1 million yuan ($150,600) and sentenced to 10 years in prison, starting with his detention in July 2009.

A Shanghai court twice awarded Mr. Hu six-month sentence reductions for being a model prisoner, shortening his 10-year sentence by a year, according to a court document.

Mr. Hu's three Rio Tinto colleagues received sentences ranging from seven to 14 years.

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