Rio Tinto faces backlash over former CEO’s exit package

Jean-Sebastien Jacques. Credit: Rio Tinto Group.

Rio Tinto is braced for an investor revolt after handing £7.2 million ($9.9m) to its former CEO Jean-Sebastien Jacques, who was forced to leave over the fallout of the destruction of sacred Aboriginal caves last year.

In February, the company revealed that Jacques had finished 2020 with a substantial payout.

Two other senior executives, who were in charge of the iron ore division and the unit responsible for dealing with Indigenous communities, also received hefty remunerations. Both Chris Salisbury and Simone Niven left Rio last year.

Shareholder advisory groups Glass Lewis and ISS have urged shareholders to vote against the pay report at next month’s annual meeting, The Times reported.

ISS also recommended that investors vote against the re-election of Megan Clark, who chairs Rio’s sustainability committee. A senior Rio source told the newspaper that Jacques’ pay was based on long-term incentives.

Last month, Rio Tinto’s chairman Simon Thompson became the latest high-profile executive to announce his departure amid backlash for the company’s destruction of the sacred shelters.

Australia is considering new legislation to protect Aboriginal heritage after the accident.

The Australian Aboriginal group whose sacred rock shelters Rio Tinto destroyed last year recently rejected a plan by mining company Fortescue’s founder Andrew Forrest to build dams along a river in the same region, citing the cultural damage it would cause.

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