Brazil charges ex-Vale CEO with homicide for dam disaster

Elias Hubbard
January 22, 2020

State prosecutors are filing charges nearly a year after the catastrophic dam collapse, which took place in the town of Brumadinho in the state of Minas Gerais and killed more than 250 people.

Schvartsman was removed as CEO in early March at the urging of prosecutors who alleged his presence at the company posed a danger to society.

"Vale reiterates its solidarity with the families of the victims and the people affected by the tragedy and its confidence on the complete clarification of the causes of the dam breach, reaffirming its commitment to continue to fully co-operate with the authorities", it said. "The proof is robust".

In addition to the charge against employees, the source, with access to the charges, said Vale SA and TUV SUD have been charged with environmental crimes.

A group of 100 institutional investors, representing more than US$12 trillion assets under management and co-led by the Church of England Pensions Board and the Swedish Council on Ethics for the AP Funds, asked 683 extractive companies to provide greater disclosure on their TSF management a year ago.

Just ahead of the disaster's anniversary on January 25, the small town of Brumadinho remains devastated and some families haven't yet recovered bodies of their loved ones.

The mine tailings dam gave way and the water smashed through the town, dumping mud containing heavy metals in the Paraopeba River. It also identified engineering errors in the dam's construction.

"Vale right away expresses that it is perplexed by the accusations of willful misconduct".

Of the 16 individuals charged, 11 had worked for Vale and five for TUV SUD, prosecutors said.

Tuv Sud, which was responsible for technical security studies, drafted "false declarations of stability" with the aim of keeping activity going at Vale's mine, prosecutors charged.

"The objective of these omissions was to avoid negative impacts for Vale's reputation", Pinto Coelho said.

Tuv Sud responded that the cause of the dam failure still hasn't been conclusively clarified.

"We continue to offer our authorities in Brazil and Germany to work together on ongoing investigations", the company said. In 2015, a mining dam owned by a Vale joint venture collapsed, resulting in 19 deaths.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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