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Rio Tinto may further delay bonus payments to ex-CEO amid Guinea scandal probe

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Rio Tinto may further delay bonus payments to ex-CEO amid Guinea scandal probe

Rio Tinto may further delay the payment of outstanding bonuses to its former CEO Sam Walsh amid ongoing investigations into the Guinea payment scandal, Bloomberg News reported Jan. 1, citing a company spokesperson.

The miner has been facing legal challenges and regulatory investigations in connection with US$10.5 million in payments made to a consultant providing "advisory services" on the Simandou iron ore project in Guinea.

The company said in 2017 that it will defer short- and long-term incentives owed to Walsh for at least 2 years.

"Given investigations remain ongoing the board has asked Sam to agree to a further deferral until the investigations have concluded," said a company spokesperson.

Walsh, who retired from the CEO position in July 2016, has said previously that he always acted lawfully and in accordance with his duties. In 2016, Walsh's compensation was US$11.4 million, including long-term incentives of US$6.8 million that were deferred.

The miner self-reported to regulators in the U.S., the U.K. and Australia regarding the payments in 2016.

Rio Tinto later sacked Energy & Minerals chief executive Alan Davies and Legal & Regulatory Affairs Group Executive Debra Valentine.

Leaked emails in late 2016 recorded the company's top executives, including Walsh and Davies, discussing the US$10.5 million payment to a consultant to improve relations with the president of Guinea in a bid to aid procurement of land for the project.