Strongman’s hand in BHP deal

A BHP Billiton mining deal being investigated for alleged corruption was personally overseen by Cambodian strongman Hun Sen, diplomatic cables reveal. The miner’s aborted attempt to establish a bauxite mine in Cambodia, and its hospitality program for Chinese officials at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, are at the centre of a foreign bribery investigation by the Australian Federal Police and the US Justice Department. … Diplomatic cables, several marked ”sensitive” and ”protected”, show for the first time Prime Minister Hun Sen’s close involvement in 2006 negotiations with BHP executives that led to him announcing to a private audience he would give ”BHP 1 million hectares of land” weeks before an agreement was signed and ”a possible tax holiday”. They also reveal how BHP stopped all mineral exploration in Cambodia just months after a British non-governmental organisation published a 2009 report highlighting the company’s payment of $US3.5 million to Cambodian government departments and concerns it could not be accounted for. There is no evidence suggesting any of the money went to Mr Hun Sen or his associates, and he has dismissed reports suggesting BHP was involved in bribery in Cambodia.