BHP Billiton is the subject of a corruption probe by US authorities (Reuters)
Mining giant BHP Billiton is likely to face enforcement actions by the US as a result of its possible breaches of anti-corruption laws in connection with terminated exploration activities and hospitality at the Beijing Olympic Games.
The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) have been investigating the company since 2009 for corruption.
"As a part of the US process, the SEC and DOJ have recently notified the group of the issues they consider could form the basis of enforcement actions and discussions are continuing," the Melbourne, Australia-based company said in a statement.
BHP declined to comment further or to predict outcomes of the enforcement actions, given the continuing nature of the investigations, but noted that it "is fully committed to operating with integrity".
The company added that it has a "world class anti-corruption compliance programme" which prohibits it from engaging in unethical conduct.
BHP shares were trading down 1.45% at AUS$36.79 (£21.60, €25.30, $33.80) in Sydney as at 7:00 am BST.
Investigations into Allegations
After it received an information request from the SEC in August 2009, BHP launched an internal investigation into the allegations that it breached anti-corruption laws in its dealing with foreign government officials under a multimillion-dollar hospitality and sponsorship programme at the 2008 Olympics.
BHP is subject to US corporate laws, including the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, as it is listed on the New York stock exchange.
The company, which is the world's largest miner, said it handed over the details of the investigation to relevant authorities in June.
The Australian Federal Police has also started an investigation into the corruption allegations. BHP said it is fully cooperating with all investigations.
The company has allegedly given hospitality and gifts to Chinese dignitaries, including steel company representatives.
Penalties for violations of the US rules will depend on the extent and duration of violations, the level of received benefit and the cooperation from the target being probed.
Recently, French oil company Total SA and US-based contract drilling services provider Parker Drilling settled their lawsuits with the SEC and the Justice Department.
To contact the editor, e-mail: