The SEC announced a $25 million settlement of its investigation into BHP Billiton concerning potential FCPA violations related to the purchase of Olympics tickets for foreign government officials for the 2008 Beijing Games. The global mining, metals and petroleum company was accused of inviting 176 government officials and employees of state owned enterprises to the games.
Sixty of them, including a few spouses and other people, took them up on the offer. Most of them were from Africa and Asia. They received three or four day hospitality packages which provided luxury accommodations, sightseeing trips and event tickets.
The company did not have adequate internal controls in place to ensure that these trips did not serve as bribes. Some of the invited individuals were government officials involved in contract negotiations or regulatory dealings with BHP Billiton.
The SEC press release speaks to the question of the adequacy of the measures that BHP did put into place to ensure compliance with the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act:
“A ‘check the box’ compliance approach of forms over substance is not enough to comply with the FCPA,” said Antonia Chion, Associate Director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement. “Although BHP Billiton put some internal controls in place around its Olympic hospitality program, the company failed to provide adequate training to its employees and did not implement procedures to ensure meaningful preparation, review, and approval of the invitations.”
If you wish to report violations of the law as an FCPA whistleblower, contact one of SEC whistleblower attorneys for assistance or answers to your questions. They can be reached via our contact form or by calling 1-800-590-4116.