BHP Billiton Plc Could Face US Anti-Corruption Charges

The shares of BHP Billiton (LSE: BLT) (NYSE: BBL.US) were flat at 1,980p this morning after the mining giant confirmed it could face US legal action as part of a regulatory probe into anti-corruption breaches.

The issues are connected to the hospitality provided by the company at the Beijing Olympics in 2008, and BHP’s sponsorship of the event.

While discussions between BHP and regulators are ongoing, it is understood that these matters are linked to “previously terminated exploration and development efforts”.

BHP Billiton began an internal investigation in 2009 after being contacted by the US Securities and Exchange Commission for information. The company concluded that anti-corruption laws had been violated, in relation to interactions with foreign government officials, and BHP passed along its findings to the relevant authorities.

As suggested by the fairly muted reaction in BHP’s share price, much of this news was well known to the market. With a market cap of £42bn, BHP’s shares trade at 12 times expected earnings, and offer a prospective dividend yield of 3.8%.

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> Mark does not own any share mentioned in this article.