BHP Billiton Denies FCPA Violations in Connection With Beijing Olympics Sponsorship

March 28, 2013 — Multi-national companies should now be acquainted with the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), an anti-bribery law making it illegal to shower foreign officials with gifts or cash in an attempt to gain a business advantage. When companies do engage in conduct that violates the FCPA, insider informants who notify U.S. federal authorities may be entitled to financial awards under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (Dodd-Frank Act) of 2010, if their information leads to the government’s successful recovery in a foreign bribery case.

U.S. Investigation after BHP Billiton Pays Entertainment Costs for Chinese Officials

U.S. and Australian law enforcement are investigating BHP Billiton for the global mining giant’s potential violations of anti-bribery laws in connection with its sponsorship of the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.

From 2000 to 2008, BHP Billiton spent millions of dollars as part of its Beijing Olympics sponsorship,  The New York Times reports. During that time, the company provided meals, hotel rooms, and entertainment to Chinese officials with the country’s steel and aluminum companies. Australian Federal Police and the U.S. Department of Justice are looking into whether BHP Billiton paid for entertaining the Chinese officials in an effort to gain a business advantage in China, which is the mining company’s largest market. China’s steel and aluminum companies are state owned. If the government officials running the businesses are viewed as government officials, then BHP Billiton’s gifts could be characterized as illegal under the FCPA.

BHP Billiton denies any wrongdoing and reports that it is cooperating with the investigations by both countries.

Company Informants Report Foreign Bribery Violations

FCPA violations rarely involve the knowledge or participation of just one employee. Many times, accounting employees are the first to see that something is not adding up. Some unscrupulous businesses attempt to pass off foreign bribes as the inevitable “cost of doing business.” Rather than bend to pressure to keep quiet, however, employee insiders frequently decide to notify the government instead.

The Dodd-Frank Act invests FCPA whistleblowers with legal rights. The lawyers with Waters & Kraus provide aggressive legal representation to government collaborators who notify the government about foreign bribery. Contact us or phone our whistleblower attorneys at 800.226.9880 to learn more about our anti-bribery practice and how we can protect and advance your interests.

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