Rio Tinto PLC RIO, -3.29% said it agreed to pay a $15 million civil penalty to resolve an investigation by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission into payments made to a former consultant who helped the company acquire rights to massive iron-ore deposits in Guinea.
The world’s second-biggest miner by market value said it agreed to the penalty for alleged violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act without admitting to or denying the SEC’s findings.
In 2011, Rio Tinto made $10.5 million in payments to a consultant who helped the company acquire rights to mine the prized Simandou iron-ore deposit. In 2016, Rio Tinto fired one of its most senior operational executives and its head of legal and regulatory affairs as it notified authorities, including the SEC, and conducted an internal probe of the payments.
“We are glad to have resolved this matter related to events that occurred over a decade ago on appropriate and reasonable terms,” said Dominic Barton, Rio Tinto’s chairman. Rio Tinto has taken “significant actions” since to improve its compliance program, he said.