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BHP Billiton fined $25 million

SEC says its hospitality packages amounted to bribery.
BHP Billiton Ltd. ran afoul of anti-bribery laws when it paid for trips to the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics for government officials from Africa and Asia, U.S. regulators said Wednesday.
 
The Australian miner will pay $25 million to settle the Securities and Exchange Commission claims that the company’s hospitality packages amounted to bribery, according to a statement. The invitations to 176 government officials cost between $12,000 and $16,000 each, the SEC 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,” Andrew Ceresney, director of the SEC’s division of enforcement, said in the statement.

The agency said BHP failed to train employees on how to evaluate whether the invitations would violate bribery laws. As a result, some invitations were offered to government officials who were involved with BHP Billiton contract negotiations or regulatory dealings.

“While BHP Billiton made efforts at the time to address the risks related to inviting government officials to the Olympics, the controls it relied upon were insufficient,” the world’s biggest mining company said in a statement.

The company has now taken remedial actions and developed a new compliance program, BHP’s Chief Executive Officer Andrew Mackenzie said.

In settling the claims, BHP Billiton didn’t admit or deny wrongdoing. An investigation by the Australian Federal Police is ongoing, the company said.

©2015 Bloomberg News

 

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