Paris, September 11, 2020 – On September 11, 2020, the boss of the mining giant Rio Tinto, French Jean-Sébastien Jacques, resigned amid scandal of the blasting of an ancient aboriginal site in Australia leading to the destruction of prehistoric caves of major archaeological and heritage significance last May.
As a reminder, on July 28, 2020 Sherpa initiated litigation by lodging a complaint for corruption, traffic of influence and money laundering with respect to a mining concession permit dedicated to the Anglo-Australian company Rio Tinto in Guinea. Sherpa has outlined the pressing necessity of shedding the light on the activities of French François de Combret, former executive of Rio Tinto and former manager of the Lazard bank who allegedly had close ties with Guinean President Alpha Condé.
According to the revelations of the French online news media Mediapart in 2016, François de Combret, a close associate of Guinean President Alpha Condé, allegedly misused his influence with the Guinean President in 2011 in order to obtain favors and facilitate the activities of the Anglo-Australian mining giant Rio Tinto in the country. This former senior French official allegedly made it possible to obtain the renewal of the concession to exploit the Simandou mountain, considered as the most important reserve iron to the world, supposedly against payment of a 10.5 million dollars bribe. The UK Serious Fraud Office opened an investigation into this questionable transaction in 2017.
The resignation came after the mining group blasted the Juukan Gorge cave during work to expand an iron mine in the remote Pilbara region of Western Australia. This disaster, which had angered indigenous peoples and shareholders alike, illustrates the danger of opaque practices in the extractive sector, both in terms of the integrity of economic activity and the environment.
Source of tremendous wealth, the extractive industry is also often the cause of lasting environmental damage and social upheaval in the regions where they operate.
Added to this are issues of taxation and financial opaqueness, which jeopardize the urgent need to make financial intermediaries (banks, consulting and auditing firms, lawyers, accountants) accountable.
Finally, illicit transactions tainted by corruption contribute to harming the interests of local populations deprived from the benefit of their country’s resources with respect to health, education, development and ecological transition. These transactions contribute to the “resource curse” casted on many states, fueled by overexploitation of resources and increasingly sophisticated financial engineering.Last modified: 15 September 2020