BHP bribery accusations not fully investigated: report

Giant miner BHP Billiton’s (ASX, NYSE:BHP, LON: BLT) alleged involvement in a major bribery case surrounding the company's multi-million-dollar sponsorship of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, were not duty fully investigated, reports Fairfax Media’s The Age.

According to the Australian paper, which obtained confidential documents via Freedom of Information laws, both the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) botched the probe by not conducting any in-depth investigation after the US referred the case to them in May 2010.

Around the same time, BHP —which ended up supplying the materials for gold, silver and bronze medals used in Beijing—revealed it was conducting its own internal investigation in response to inquiries from US authorities.

The probe, said the company at the time, had uncovered evidence "regarding possible violations of applicable anti-corruption laws involving interactions with government officials."

The resource giant did not name the country or the now abandoned projects involved.

In March this year, AFP and US authorities confirmed they were investigating claims against BHP of providing inducements, hospitality and gifts to Chinese and other foreign officials right around the time of the 2008 Beijing Olympics committee was accepting application for sponsorships.

It also came to light that a parallel investigation was eyeing an aborted BHP mining deal allegedly involving corruption, which was overseen by Cambodian prime minister and strongman Hun Sen.

When asked about the second case, the AFP declined to explain why the BHP case was closed in late 2011, without an investigation, 16 months after US officials referred the case to them, reports The Age.

The released documents show that in May 2010, US investigators notified the AFP they had evidence the giant miner was “paying bribes to foreign public officials.”

Exactly a year later the AFP referred the case to ASIC, which also did not conduct thorough investigations into the matter.

Image: ChameleonsEye / Shutterstock.com