BHP Billiton reveals corruption investigation

Mining giant BHP Billiton has revealed that it has uncovered possible breaches of anti-corruption laws and has provided information to an investigation by the US sharemarket regulators, the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The giant miner, which also released strong production results for the three months ended March 31 this morning, has confirmed that possible corruption incident does not relate to its operations in China.

Instead, the matter involves “certain terminated minerals exploration projects” and has nothing to do with the company’s marketing or selling activities.

“Following requests for information from the US Securities and Exchange Commission as part of an investigation relating primarily to certain terminated minerals exploration projects, the Company has disclosed to relevant authorities evidence that it has uncovered possible violations of applicable anti-corruption laws involving interactions with government officials,” BHP said in its quarterly report.

“Accordingly, the Company is cooperating with the relevant authorities including conducting an internal investigation, which is continuing. It is not possible at this time to predict the scope or duration of the investigation or its likely outcome.”

Reports suggest the SEC first contacted the company in August 2009 to discuss the matter.

The SEC has declined to comment on the probe.

The news of the investigation overshadowed a strong production result for BHP, which revealed an 11% increase in third-quarter iron ore production to a record 31.16 million tonnes.

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