BHP Billiton agrees to pay $25m to settle 2008 Beijing Olympics charges

21 May 2015 (Last Updated May 21st, 2015 18:30)

BHP Billiton has agreed to pay $25m to settle charges for potential breaches of the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA).

BHP Billiton has agreed to pay $25m to settle charges for potential breaches of the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA).

The mining firm was charged by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in violation of the US anti-bribery law, accusing BHP of sponsoring the attendance of foreign government officials at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

SEC investigations mainly related to previously terminated minerals exploration and development efforts, as well as hospitality provided by the company at the games.

In 2013, the Australian Federal Police investigation was announced, which BHP plans to continue to cooperate.

"SEC said that 176 government officials and employees of state-owned enterprises were invited by BHP to attend the games at the BHP's expense."

SEC said that 176 government officials and employees of state-owned enterprises were invited by BHP to attend the games at the BHP's expense.

Despite realising that inviting government officials to the Olympics created a heightened risk of violating anti-corruption laws, BHP could not put in adequate internal controls to address the risk, SEC said.

BHP Billiton CEO Andrew Mackenzie said: "We have taken the appropriate remedial actions and developed a world-class compliance programme that builds on the strong policies we have had in place.

"BHP Billiton operates a global resources business and recognises that the highest standards of business conduct are an essential part of our operations."

According to the SEC's order, the mining company required business managers to complete a hospitality application form for any individuals they sought to invite to the games, which also included government officials.

However, the company failed to communicate to employees that no-one outside the business unit submitting the application would approve the invitations.

It also could not provide any specific training to employees regarding the method to complete forms or evaluate bribery risks of the invitations.

A number of hospitality applications were found to be inaccurate or incomplete due to these failures.

SEC Division of Enforcement director Andrew Ceresney said: "BHP Billiton footed the bill for foreign government officials to attend the Olympics while they were in a position to help the company with its business or regulatory endeavors."