A Brazilian court has charged German auditor TÜV SÜD and Brazilian mining giant Vale for their role in the collapse of a Vale dam a year ago. The disaster was one of the world's deadliest mining accidents.
Brazilian state prosecutors have charged employees at mining multinational Vale and German auditor TÜV SÜD with homicide and environmental crimes in connection with the deadly dam collapse that killed more than 200 people last year.
On Tuesday, Minas Gerais state prosecutors said they charged 16 people who had worked for Vale or TÜV SÜD.
Vale's then-chief executive, Fabio Schvartsman, was among those charged, according to the charging document seen by news agency Reuters.
William Garcia Pinto Coelho, a prosecutor on the task force that conducted the investigation, said that they "collected a substantial volume of proof that shows the knowledge of the risk by the president (Schvartsman) not just about the B1 dam, but rather also various dams with unacceptable security situations under Vale's management. The proof is robust."
Ten other Vale employees and five from Tuv Sud were also charged. If found guilty, the accused could face prison sentences of between 12 and 30 years.
Brumadinho dam disaster
On January 25 last year, a mine tailings dam in the small Minas Gerais town of Brumadinho broke. Water ripped through the town, ravaging buildings and disposing mud containing heavy metals in the Paraopeba River.
The town remains devastated and some of its residents haven't yet recovered the bodies of their loved ones.
The January 2019 disaster followed another in the same region in 2015, at a dam co-owned by Vale. No individuals were held accountable for the collapse.
In a statement, TÜV SÜD said that one year after the dam broke its causes still haven't been clarified and that data from various sources must be collected and analyzed. It also said it was collaborating with authorities and could not comment further on the matter as investigations were ongoing.
Vale did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Vale shares were down almost 2% after prosecutors made the Twitter announcement.
The collapse of the dam had knocked $19 billion (€17 billion) off Vale's market value in a single day.
mvb, jsi/ng (AP, Reuters)