Top miner BHP Billiton is under investigation by the U.S. government for corruption for its role in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, company officials said, following Australian media reports. Fairfax Media noted that the U.S. Department of Justice, in conjunction with officials from the Australian Federal Police, were probing allegations that BHP gave bribes, hospitality and gifts to Chinese and other foreign officials.
Following a U.S.-filed freedom of information (FOIA) request, Justice Department officials told Australian reporters, they were undertaking “law enforcement proceedings” involving BHP, which supplied the materials for gold, silver and bronze medals used in Beijing. Meanwhile, Australian authorities confirmed their cooperation with Washington and with regulators on Australian elements of the U.S. investigation.
Previously, the Australian media reported that between 2000 and 2008, BHP spent millions on an Olympics sponsorship package which, according to an ex-employee, included more than 170 people, including top Beijing officials as well as Chinese steel and mining CEOs.
BHP representatives, for their part, told reporters they were cooperating with “relevant authorities” in laws related to its Olympics sponsorship. “BHP Billiton is fully committed to operating with integrity and the Group's policies specifically prohibit engaging in bribery in all its forms,” BHP said in an emailed statement quoted by Reuters.