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Rio Tinto executives say goodbye to 2020 with chunky payouts

Mon 22nd February, 2021 7:19am
MELBOURNE, Feb 22 (Reuters) - Three Rio Tinto executives
forced to leave the company after the destruction of sacred rock
shelters at Juukan Gorge in Western Australia all closed off the
year with substantial payouts, Rio's annual report released on
Monday showed. 
    Chief Executive Jean-Sébastien Jacques, who stepped down
from his role at the end of 2020, received total remuneration of
13.3 million pounds ($18.6 million) under Australian accounting
rules, up from 7.1 million pounds a year earlier.
    Despite the loss of about 2.7 million pounds in awards
following a board review into the blast, the sum, which includes
the value of share awards that have not yet vested, was boosted
by Rio Tinto's strong share price performance.
    Jacques and two other executives left Rio after the company
determined their positions had become untenable after a backlash
against a board review that originally imposed only financial
penalties for the destruction of the sacred sites.*:nL4N2FP0S7*:nL4N2G7483
    Rio Tinto's remuneration committee, led by non-executive
director Sam Laidlaw, granted "eligible" leaver status to the
three executives, meaning they avoided stiffer financial
penalties for the incident. 
    "In making the eligible leaver determination the Board fully
recognised the gravity of the destruction at Juukan Gorge but
was mindful that the three executives did not deliberately cause
the events to happen, they did not do anything unlawful, nor did
they engage in fraudulent or dishonest behaviour or wilfully
neglect their duties," it said in the annual report.
    Rio's iron ore head, Chris Salisbury, who stepped down in
September, received total remuneration of A$6.7 million ($5.3
million) including termination benefits and unvested share
awards, from A$2.9 million in 2019. Salisbury lost a A$1.1
million short-term incentive.
    Head of Corporate Affairs Simone Niven forfeited 525,000
pounds in short-term incentives but received 5.1 million pounds,
including 1.1 million pounds in termination benefits and
unvested share awards. 
    Independent Rio Tinto Director Michael L'Estrange, who lead
the initial board review, had a 46% increase in fees and salary.
His total remuneration rose to A$227,000 from A$201,000.*:nL4N2G7483*:nL4N2FP0S7
    Chairman Simon Thompson was paid 939,000 pounds, up from
934,000 pounds the year before. 
($1 = 1.2695 Australian dollars)
($1 = 0.7136 pounds)

 (Reporting by Melanie Burton; editing by Richard Pullin)
 (( Twitter: @MelanieMetals;
+613 9286 1421; Reuters Messaging:
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