Four staff at Anglo-Australian miner Rio Tinto Ltd detained in China over suspected spying had bribed officials at Chinese steel makers during iron ore price talks, state media said on Friday.
The China Securities Journal, an official newspaper published by the state-run Xinhua news agency, cited a statement from the Shanghai office of the State Security Bureau for the accusation.
It said Stern Hu and the other three detained employees "stole state secrets" during iron ore price talks this year, though it did not specify exactly what information they obtained.
They "used improper methods, roping in and bribing officials at Chinese steel producers," the newspaper said.
"This seriously damaged China's economic security and interests," it added. "The activities of Stern Hu and the others violated Chinese law as well as international business morality."
When reached by a Reuters reporter, the State Security Bureau's Shanghai office declined comment and referred the reporter to remarks on Thursday by a Foreign Ministry spokesman.
Chinese authorities have "a vast amount of irrefutable evidence" which showed the four "pried and stole Chinese state secrets for overseas, gravely harming China's economic interests and economic security," Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang had told reporters, among other comments.
Rio Tinto has not yet commented directly on the various accusations.