MAC: Mines and Communities

Brumadinho: German dam auditors now face criminal charges

Published by MAC on 2019-10-25
Source: ECCHR, Miserior

Two German NGO's have issued a law suit against the auditor of Vale's Brumadinho tailings dam, which collapsed with such dire results at the beginning of this year.

Joined with Bazilian victims, they are accusing the auditing company of negligent homicide, private bribery and other offences.

For earlier article, see Vale, auditor, face criminal charges 

Deadly dam breach near Brumadhinho: Affected persons file complaint
against TÜV SÜD in Germany

Joint press release by NGOs

17 October 2019

Berlin/Munich – More than 270 people were killed, the drinking water of
thousands of people was contaminated and the environment destroyed when
the B1 dam near Brumadinho in Brazil broke on 25 January 2019. Only four
months prior, German auditor TÜV SÜD confirmed the dam’s safety when its
Brazilian subsidiary issued a stability declaration. For this reason, on
15 October 2019, five of those affected by the dam failure, the European
Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) and MISEREOR filed
complaints against the German certification company and one of its
employees. The accusations: negligent homicide, private bribery, causing
a flood by negligence, and violating supervisory duties. The claim is
supported by Brazilian NGOs Associação Comunitária da Jangada and
International Articulation of People Affected by Vale.

“The breach was no accident. It was a crime. TÜV SÜD knew that the dam
posed a safety risk and still said that the dam was stable. For me, the
case is personal: my father was killed in the dam breach. The corrupt
safety business has to change – it destroys lives and our planet,” said
Marcela Nayara Rodrigues, one of the five complainants.

ECCHR found that engineers from TÜV SÜD’s Brazilian subsidiary Bureau de
Projetos e Consultoria Ltda identified problems with the dam’s drainage
as early as March 2018. Excessive water pressure finally caused the dam
to burst in January 2019.

“The lawsuit in Germany in no way changes the Brazilian mine operator
Vale S.A.’s liability for the dam failure. TÜV SÜD is jointly
responsible for the deaths and environmental damage. This case shows
that the certification system fails to ensure safety. More than anything
else, it conceals responsibility,” added ECCHR’s Claudia Müller-Hoff who
worked on the law infringement complaint against TÜV SÜD and a criminal
complaint against a top employee of the company. Lawyers Bernhard Docke
and Dr Carsten Momsen represent those affected in the accessory private

Vale S.A., the world’s largest iron ore exporter, rejects all
responsibility for the dam failure at its mine, citing TÜV SÜD and the
test results of its Brazilian subsidiary. Certifiers’ roles in the
global economy are controversial. Companies, such as Vale in this case,
pay certifiers directly for safety tests – which inevitably leads to a
conflict of interest.

“Human rights due diligence and the care for nature must take precedence
over corporate economic interests. The action of TÜV SÜD shows that we
urgently need a binding law for corporations to ensure that this is not
left to a company’s discretion. That is why we, as part of a broad civil
society alliance, are calling for a human rights due diligence law in
Germany to hold corporations accountable for human rights violations and
environmental damage,” said Pirmin Spiegel, Managing Director of MISEREOR.

Find more information on the complaint and the case against TÜV SÜD
(case report, legal Q&A, photos) here -


ECCHR: Michelle Trimborn, Tel.: + 49 (0)1577 57 23 737, E-Mail:
MISEREOR: Barbara Wiegard, Tel: + 49 (0)30 433 5198 8

European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights e.V. (ECCHR)
Zossener Str. 55-58, Staircase D
D-10961 BERLIN


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