The Anglo-Australian mining giant has denied charges that its employees bribed Chinese steel mill executives in order to steal state secrets on iron ore.

The arrests followed a dispute between Rio Tinto and the Beijing government during iron ore pricing talks. The likely outcome is that China will pay what it sees as an unfair price for the company’s iron ore. The incident also follows the collapse of a $19.5bn deal for Chinese state company Chinalco to expand its stake in Rio Tinto.