BHP Billiton says faces questions over Olympics hospitality

CANBERRA Tue Mar 12, 2013 11:17pm GMT

A barrier tape bearing the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games logo stands out at the front of the deserted and unmaintained former venue for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games rowing competition, located on the outskirts of Beijing March 27, 2012. REUTERS/David Gray

A barrier tape bearing the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games logo stands out at the front of the deserted and unmaintained former venue for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games rowing competition, located on the outskirts of Beijing March 27, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/David Gray

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CANBERRA (Reuters) - BHP Billiton Ltd said authorities had asked it about its sponsorship of the 2008 Beijing Olympics and said it had complied with all applicable laws, after media reported it was facing an investigation.

The Australian Financial Review said on Wednesday that allegations BHP provided inducements, hospitality and gifts to Chinese and other foreign officials were the subject of an investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice and the Australian Federal Police (AFP).

The U.S. Justice Department told the AFR, in response to a freedom of information request, it was conducting "law enforcement proceedings" involving BHP, which supplied materials for the gold, silver and bronze medals used in Beijing.

The paper reported that between 2000 and 2008, BHP spent millions of dollars on a major Olympics sponsorship deal and hospitality package which according to a former China staffer involved more than 170 VIPs, including senior government officials and Chinese steel and mineral company CEOs.

(Reporting by Rob Taylor; Editing by John Mair)

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