BHP Billiton is in discussions to resolve an investigation of potential Foreign Corrupt Practices Act violations that relate to the company’s sponsorship of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
The world’s largest miner said in its annual report Thursday, “The issues relate primarily to matters in connection with previously terminated exploration and development efforts, as well as hospitality provided as part of the company’s sponsorship of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.”
“The group is currently discussing a potential resolution of the matter,” it said.
Australia-based BHP didn’t specify if the discussions are with the SEC alone. The disclosure didn’t mention the DOJ.
BHP spent millions of dollars in sponsorship fees for the 2008 summer Olympics in Beijing.
In fiscal year 2014, BHP had 123,800 employees and contractors at 130 locations in 21 countries. Revenue was $67.2 billion.
BHP Billiton Limited trades on the NYSE under the symbol BHP.
The SEC started its FCPA investigation in 2009.
BHP reportedly stopped all activity in Cambodia after reports alleged the company paid $3.5 million to Cambodian officials. Negotiations by BHP executives in 2006 had led to the company winning bauxite exploration rights, reports said.
The company said its internal investigation that was self reported to the SEC “uncovered possible violations of anti-corruption laws.”
The Australian Federal Police have also been conducting an investigation.
The allegations involve hospitality and gifts given to Chinese dignitaries, including steel company representatives, the Sydney Morning Herald said.
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Here’s BHP Billiton’s disclosure from its 2014 annual report (pdf) released September 25:
As previously disclosed, BHP Billiton received requests for information in August 2009 from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Following that request, the Group commenced an internal investigation and disclosed to relevant authorities evidence that it has uncovered regarding possible violations of applicable anti-corruption laws involving interactions with government officials.
The issues relate primarily to matters in connection with previously terminated exploration and development efforts, as well as hospitality provided as part of the Company’s sponsorship of the 2008 Beijing Olympics. The Group is currently discussing a potential resolution of the matter.
As has been publicly reported, the Australian Federal Police has indicated that it has commenced an investigation and the Group continues to fully cooperate with the relevant authorities.
In light of the continuing nature of the investigations, it is not appropriate at this stage for BHP Billiton to predict outcomes.
Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog. He can be contacted here.