BHP Billiton share price: Australian senator seeks corruption inquiry into miner

on Mar 6, 2015

An Australian senator has called for an inquiry into suspected corruption at top companies including miner BHP Billiton (LON:BLT). Labor Senator Sam Dastyari said yesterday that the proposed investigation — which will also target contractor Leighton Holdings among other Australia-based corporations — will relate to “allegations BHP attempted to bribe Chinese officials” as part of its sponsorship of the Beijing Olympics in 2008.

Dastyari’s call for an inquiry reflects his frustration with the lack of any enforcement action in the matter by the Australian police. “Australia urgently needs to reform both its legislative framework and its approach to enforcement,” he said.
BHP released a statement in response to the senator’s comments, confirming the company became aware of issues when contacted by US authorities in 2009. “Following that request, the group commenced an internal investigation and disclosed to relevant authorities evidence that it has uncovered regarding possible violations of applicable anti-corruption laws involving interactions with government officials,” BHP added.

The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) sought information from BHP in 2009 mainly related to hospitality the company provided around the 2008 Beijing Olympics and exploration and development efforts which the group had previously terminated. The case remains unsolved, with the Australian police force poised to begin its own inquiry once US authorities take action.
BHP Billiton’s share price closed yesterday’s trading session 0.22 percent higher at 1,577.00p. According to the Financial Times, as at 4 March 2015, the consensus forecast amongst 32 polled investment analysts has it that the company will outperform the market.

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