11:14, July 25 546 0

2017-07-25 11:14:07
Kirkland to advise Rio Tinto in SFO probe

Kirkland & Ellis will advise Rio Tinto during the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) corruption investigation into its business in the Republic of Guinea, The Lawyer understands.

In November last year, the mining giant announced that it had launched an internal investigation into email correspondence from 2011 relating to contractual payments totalling $10.5m.

These payments were allegedly “made to a consultant providing advisory services on the Simandou project in Guinea”, and prompted the suspension of energy and minerals chief executive Alan Davies, who was responsible for the project in 2011.

The company’s legal boss Debra Valentine also stepped down as the company’s legal head,a role she had held since 2008, before being appointed group executive of legal and regulatory affairs a year later.

She was later replaced by Freshfields corporate partner Philip Richards who was appointed as general counsel on a permanent basis earlier this year, in what is just one example of the company’s strong links to city law firms.

Linklaters counts Rio Tinto as one of its major clients, having advised it on a $7.5bn refinancing and a $10bn MTN update.

It also scored the lead role on Rio Tinto’s $34bn bid for Canadian aluminium company Alcan in 2007, as well as the Chinese government’s $19.5bn cash injection into the mining group and an  offering of $2bn of notes by Rio Tinto Finance in 2011.

The British-Australian mining giant said in a statement: “Rio Tinto will fully co-operate with the Serious Fraud Office and any other relevant authorities, as it has done since it self-reported in November 2016.”

Kirkland declined to comment.