US authorities have warned global mining giant BHP Billiton it could face action over potential breaches of anti-corruption laws relating to its sponsorship of the Beijing Olympics, the company said Friday.
The world's largest miner has been under investigation for four years by the US Securities and Exchange Commission related to terminated exploration activities and its charm offensive at the 2008 Games.
Reports earlier this year in Australia said that instead of using the Olympics affiliation to promote its products, BHP allegedly ran a "behind-the-scenes campaign to improve relations with its most important clients -- those who run China's state-owned steel-making firms".
Chinalco, Baosteel and the China Iron and Steel Association were reportedly among those BHP wooed around the time of the Olympics, which came when the mining giant was being criticised in the media for high iron ore prices.
BHP on Friday said the US Securities and Exchange Commission and Department of Justice have now detailed issues that could lead to unspecified "enforcement actions".
"The issues relate primarily to matters in connection with previously terminated exploration and development efforts, as well as hospitality provided as part of the company's sponsorship of the 2008 Beijing Olympics," BHP said in a statement.
"BHP Billiton is fully committed to operating with integrity and the group's policies specifically prohibit engaging in unethical conduct. BHP Billiton has what it considers to be a world class anti-corruption compliance programme."
The Anglo-Australian miner said its own internal investigation launched several years ago found evidence regarding possible bribery of foreign government officials and the information was disclosed to relevant authorities, including the US Department of Justice.