Did BHP Billiton Bribe Chinese Officials?

The U.S. Department of Justice, in conjunction with the Australian Federal Police, are looking into accusations that international mining company BHP Billiton (NYSE:BHP) provided inducements, hospitality and gifts to foreign officials, notably Chinese, during the Beijing Olympics in 2008. BHP supplied the materials for gold, silver and bronze medals used in Beijing, and was a sponsor of the event.

Australian officials have confirmed that they are working with other foreign divisions on the U.S. investigation, but did not disclose further details.

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In response to media queries, BHP said that it was cooperating with the investigation, and that it believed it had complied with all applicable laws in regards to its Olympics sponsorship. The company has been under investigation since 2009, and in 2010, Reuters reports that BHP disclosed that it had uncovered possible violations of some anti-corruption laws.

Fairfax Media, out of Australia,  reported that between 2000 and 2008, BHP spent millions of dollars on a major Olympics sponsorship deal and hospitality package. According to a former China staffer, the package involved more than 170 VIPs, including senior government officials and Chinese steel and mineral company executives. However, instead of being aimed at consumers, BHP’s sponsorship was targeted mostly at its close circle of Chinese buyers and employees…

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