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Mining giant BHP Billiton faces probe after bribery admission

BHP Billiton, the world's biggest miner, is under investigation over bribery allegations, after it a

BHP Billiton, the world's biggest miner, is under investigation over bribery allegations after it admitted uncovering corruption involving foreign government officials in the course of mineral exploration projects.

BHP said it is talking with the UK Serious Fraud Office (SFO) and the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) over the alleged offences. It has already given evidence to the SEC.

The SFO, which is conducting a preliminary assessment, said it was considering launching its own investigation into the allegations.

It is understood that the SEC approached BHP last August, after which the mining giant hired Wall Street lawyers Davis Polk & Wardwell for a review.

A spokesman for BHP did not specify the country where the alleged corruption occurred, but the projects under scrutiny are thought to be in Congo and Cambodia.

An Australian newspaper said that BHP paid local officials in Cambodia $2.5m for exploration projects.