Top miner BHP uncovers 'possible corruption'

21st April 2010, Comments 0 comments

The world's top miner BHP Billiton said Wednesday it has uncovered evidence of possible corruption linked to mineral exploration projects and has handed the information to US authorities.

The Anglo-Australian giant said it was also conducting an internal probe into the matter, which involves "interaction" with government officials surrounding some projects.

"The company has disclosed to relevant authorities evidence that it has uncovered regarding possible violations of applicable anti-corruption laws involving interactions with government officials," a statement said.

"Accordingly, the company is cooperating with the relevant authorities including conducting an internal investigation, which is continuing."

A spokeswoman refused to reveal where the alleged violations took place but said it was not China, where four Rio Tinto staff were jailed for bribery and commercial espionage last month.

She said the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) had requested information related to "relatively small" exploration contracts which were terminated about a year ago.

"We're talking about a couple of relatively small minerals exploration projects, the last of which was terminated about a year ago on commercial grounds," the spokeswoman told AFP.

"Only after that, in August last year, did we get an inquiry from the SEC asking us to do some internal investigations, which we did commence at that point.

"We have recently uncovered some evidence we have given to the SEC, and we are involved in ongoing internal investigations and cooperating fully with the SEC on this issue."

-- Dow Jones Newswires contributed to this report --

© 2010 AFP

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