SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australia’s corporate watchdog said on Tuesday it has expanded legal action against miner Rio Tinto (RIO.AX) (RIO.L) and two former top executives, alleging a failure to recognize an impairment in its Mozambique coal assets in 2012 financial statements.
The new allegations against former Chief Executive Tom Albanese and former Chief Financial Officer Guy Elliott come on top of claims the executives misled investors about the coal reserves in the 2011 annual report.
“The charges are wholly unwarranted and 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 Rio Tinto spokesman said.
The global miner has denied any wrongdoing in a similar case brought by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
Rio Tinto bought Riversdale Mining, later renamed Rio Tinto Coal Mozambique, for $4 billion in 2011, but later wrote off about $3.5 billion of its value.
Reporting by Jonathan Barrett and Tom Westbrook in SYDNEY; editing by Richard Pullin