A joint US-Australian criminal investigation is eyeing “suspicious transactions” made by BHP Billiton to foreign officials during the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Fairfax Media reports the company is currently under investigation by Australian Federal Police and the Criminal Division of the US Department of Justice.
The investigation centres on payments made to foreign officials, including Chinese dignitaries, in a hospitality and sponsorship program for the 2008 Olympics.
According to Fairfax Media, Federal Police have reviewed US files and discovered “suspicious transactions that had been recorded as legitimate business payments”.
The AFP has referred the investigation to its Foreign Bribery Panel of Experts, which will help determine whether the company or its employees have breached the foreign bribery act and the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
In a statement to Australian Mining BHP confirmed it was the subject of an investigation, but said it could not provide details on the inquiry.
“As previously disclosed BHP Billiton has been cooperating with the relevant authorities in an investigation into possible violations of anti-corruption laws,” it said.
“We have been asked about BHP's sponsorship of the 2008 Beijing Olympics. We believe our Olympics activities complied with all applicable law.”
“BHP is fully committed to operating with integrity and the group's policies specifically prohibit engaging in bribery in all its forms.”
“We are not in a position to comment further with respect to any ongoing investigation related to this matter.”