The Wall Street Journal: Vale CEO dismissed warning before deadly Brazil dam disaster

This post was originally published on this site

BELO HORIZONTE, Brazil — Vale SA’s top managers received an anonymous email warning about the state of the miner’s dams two weeks before a deadly disaster, a note that prompted the chief executive to pursue the writer’s identity and call the person a “cancer,” a police document shows.

Authorities said they are focusing on then-CEO Fabio Schvartsman’s response as they investigate whether a culture of retaliation at the company contributed to the Jan. 25. mine-dam collapse in Brumadinho that killed 270 people, the world’s deadliest mining disaster of its kind in more than 50 years.

The Jan. 9 email, which was sent to Schvartsman, current Chief Executive Eduardo Bartolomeo, Chief Financial Officer Luciano Siani Pires and other executives, said the company’s mine-waste dams were “at their limit,” according to a 15-page summary of Schvartsman’s recent interrogation by police and prosecutors that was reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

A Vale VALE, +1.57%   spokesman said the email was generic and lacked evidence, vehemently denying a culture of retaliation at the company. Vale’s executive directors never had any knowledge about a critical or imminent risk at the dam before it collapsed, he said.

An expanded version of this report appears on

Also popular on

Why investors may want to bet on humble CEOs.

WeWork isn’t the only stumble for SoftBank’s Vision Fund.