BHP will pay a US$25 million ‘civil penalty’ following the resolution of an investigation into its actions during the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games
The investigation was wider ranging, regarding provisions of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act .
Federal Police reviewed US files and discovered “suspicious transactions that had been recorded as legitimate business payments”.
According to BHP, as part of its aforementioned hospitality program it invited customers, suppliers, business partners, government officials, and employees to the Olympic Games.
“While BHP made efforts at the time to address the risks related to inviting government officials to the Olympics, the controls it relied upon were insufficient to satisfy the civil books and records and internal accounting controls requirements of the US statute,” BHP explained.
The investigation was then referred to the US Foreign Bribery Panel of Experts, which determined whether the company or its employees have breached the foreign bribery act and the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA).
The US Department of Justice has now brought the investigation to an end, and found no evidence of bribery or corrupt intent.
The penalty related to internal controls regarding hospitality.
However the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has imposed the civil penalty as part of its accounting provision into the investigation of the FCPA.
The SEC went on to note BHP’s ‘significant co-operation’ during the investigation, and the ‘significant remedial actions’ the company took over the five years to enhance it compliance program.
BHP added that since the initial incident it has created an independent compliance function that reports to the head of the legal function and the Risk & Audit Committee of the board.
“We have fully co-operated with the SEC throughout this process; we have taken the appropriate remedial actions and developed a compliance program that builds on the policies we have had in place,” BHP CEO Andrew Mackenzie stated.
“Our company has learned from this experience.”