Vale management was warned of dam failure by anonymous email

November 5, 2019

A congressional report on the collapse of a tailings dam at Brumadinho Mine in Brazil in January 2019 found that the former chief executive of Vale received an anonymous email weeks before the deadly collapse about “dams at their limit.”

Reuters reported that Rather than seeking to investigate the allegation in the email, also addressed to other senior executives, Vale’s then-Chief Executive Officer Fabio Schvartsman directed other employees to try to identify the email’s author, according to the 625-page report.

The congressional investigative committee report was released after five months of hearings. The report cited the email as evidence that Vale’s senior management was aware of the looming danger of the dam. The dam collapse killed more than 250 people,

The former CEO “had full knowledge of the necessity of adopting urgent measures to increase the security of the dams in the priority area,” the report’s authors wrote.

The congressional report was one of a series of investigations conducted in the wake of the Brumadinho disaster. Like an earlier Senate probe, the report from the Brazilian lower house suggested the indictment of various Vale executives, including Schvartsman, for homicide.

The former CEO “had full knowledge of the necessity of adopting urgent measures to increase the security of the dams in the priority area,” the report’s authors wrote.

Schvartsman was removed from the CEO job in early March at the urging of prosecutors who said in a letter to the board that his and other top Vale executives’ continued presence at the company posed “immeasurable risks to society.”

A Brazilian prosecutor told Reuters in September that the criminal probe into Vale’s actions related to the dam collapse was close to completion.
When Schvartsman was shown the anonymous email, he “took offense at the message’s content and asked that the sender be identified,” the report said, quoting the deposition of Alexandre de Aquino Pereira, Vale’s ethics and conduct general manager.

The claims about the anonymous email and Schvartsman’s demand that the sender be identified were first reported by the Wall Street Journal.

 

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