The ghosts of a long-running corruption scandal have returned to haunt Pilbara junior Brockman Mining, with its chief executive having charges laid against him in Hong Kong.
Luk Kin Peter Joseph has confirmed that charges have been laid against him by Hong Kong's Independent Commission Against Corruption. It has been investigating him since October 2011.
While the exact nature of the charges was unclear, Brockman said Mr Luk planned to defend the charges vigorously.
"Mr Luk has informed the company that charges in relation to certain alleged offences under the Prevention of Bribery Ordinance and the Crime Ordinance have been laid against him today by ICAC and he was on bail pending the relevant hearings," the company said in a statement.
It said the charges related to an issue that occurred before Mr Luk joined the company. It did not relate to Brockman in any way.
Mr Luk has continued serving as chief executive over the past two years despite the corruption cloud over him and his company role.
Brockman indicated there would be no change to that defiant stand, despite the matter progressing towards charges.
"The company is of the view that the normal daily business and operations of the group will not be affected and Mr Luk will continue to undertake and discharge his duties as the chief executive and an executive director of the company," it said.
"The board will continue to monitor the development of the prosecution and assess its impact to the operation of the group."
The charges come at an awkward time for Brockman, which is entering the pointy end of a rail access dispute with Fortescue in WA.
Brockman has a massive, high-quality iron ore deposit in the Pilbara, but has no way of transporting the product to Port Hedland for export. It has launched a hostile bid for access to Fortescue's railway under third-party access laws.
That bid appears bound for at least one and possibly two arbitration sessions.
Fortescue has refused to negotiate with Brockman so far and has publicly questioned whether Brockman has the leadership capacity, and financial firepower to develop its iron ore project.
Brockman's Australian boss, Russell Tipper, said he did not expect the charges against Mr Luk to damage perceptions of the company's managerial staff.
"These sorts of regulator actions and matters happen from time to time; I guess I don't need to point you in the direction of our counter-party (Fortescue chairman Andrew Forrest) in terms of his run-in with ASIC. I don't think that diminishes your ability to manage the company," he said, referring to ASIC's failed attempt to charge Mr Forrest with misleading investors, which ended in October 2012.
Mr Tipper said Brockman's alliance with rail provider Aurizon - under which Aurizon would build and operate whatever additional transport infrastructure Brockman might need - should also calm concerns about managerial expertise.