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By Luciana Magalhaes and Samantha Pearson
BELO HORIZONTE, Brazil -- Brazilian police announced criminal charges against Vale SA and its German safety auditor, TÜV SÜD, over the miner's dam collapse in January, the world's most deadly disaster of its kind in more than half a century.
In the first charges following the tragedy, police formally accused seven individuals from Vale and six employees from TÜV SÜD, including a director of the certifications group in Germany.
The accused from Vale were all technical workers, managers and engineers; none of the company's directors were named.
Vale said in an email that it won't comment until after studying the police report, adding that the company and its executives will continue to contribute to the investigation and will respond to the accusations in due time.
A spokesman for TÜV SÜD had no immediate comment.
Under Brazilian law, police can only formally accuse suspects, while it is up to prosecutors to file the charges before a judge.
The chief police investigator, Luiz Augusto Pessoa Nogueira, said the individuals stand accused of the crimes of false representation. Police allege that the certificates produced by TÜV SÜD to attest to the stability of Vale's fateful dam were issued fraudulently, and then used by Vale to mislead Brazil's authorities over the structure's safety.
The crime of false representation can carry a prison sentence of up to six years in Brazil when related to some cases of environmental damage.
The criminal allegations come almost eight months after Vale's mine-waste dam collapsed in the town of Brumadinho, killing 270 people.
--Alistair MacDonald in London contributed to this article.
Write to Luciana Magalhaes at Luciana.Magalhaes@wsj.com and Samantha Pearson at firstname.lastname@example.org
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
September 20, 2019 10:19 ET (14:19 GMT)
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