Former Rio Tinto chief executive Tom Albanese is facing fresh allegations related to the mining giant’s disclosures about its disastrous $US4 billion African coal investment.
The corporate regulator on Tuesday announced it was seeking two further declarations about both Mr Albanese and his then-chief financial officer, Guy Elliott, over their signing off on the miner’s 2012 half-year report.
The report listed a Mozambique coal mine as an operating asset worth $US3.4 billion, but was sold in 2014 for only $US50 million.
One of the Australian Securities and Investments Commission allegations accuses both men of failing to take all reasonable steps to comply with financial reports and auditing rules.
The other allegation relates to care and diligence – a charge the two men already face in relation to Rio Tinto’s 2011 annual report.
ASIC also made four more allegations against the company, which include engaging in misleading or deceptive conduct, as well as breaking market disclosure rules.
The regulator will argue in the Federal Court that Mr Albanese and Mr Elliot should be fined and disqualified from managing corporations in Australia.
Rio labelled the charges “wholly unwarranted”.
“Rio Tinto intends to vigorously defend itself and is confident that ASIC’s allegations will be rejected once all the facts are considered in court,” a spokesman said on Tuesday.
The mining giant in October reached a settlement with the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority over the same investment and paid a penalty of $A36.4 million for breaching disclosure and transparency rules.
That same month, the US Securities and Exchange Commission laid fraud charges against Mr Albanese and Mr Elliott, alleging “top executives allegedly breached their disclosure obligations and corporate duties by hiding from their board, auditor, and investors the crucial fact that a multi-billion dollar transaction was a failure”.
Mr Albanese was ousted in January 2013 after pressure from Rio’s board, following a $US14 billion writedown against its aluminium assets and Mozambique coal assets.