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Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Hun Sen: BHP Billiton money not corrupt payments

By Khmerization
Source: CEN

Prime Minister Hun Sen (pictured) has strenuously denied that the $US2.5 million paid to the Cambodian government by Australian mining conglomerate BHP Billiton are corrupt payments, but they are social funds that have been clearly stated in the contract agreements, reports Cambodian Express News.

Mr. Hun Sen's denial came after there are reports that BHP Billiton was under investigation by the US Securities and Exchange Commission when the Australian resources giant admitted that it may have broken the anti-corruption laws by making such payments.

Speaking during the 15th Government and Private Forum on 27th, Mr. Hun Sen said the payments have been stated clearly in the agreements as social funds and that they are not "under the table" payments or corrupt payments as have been suggested. He said the payments was social funds for building schools and hospitals. He added that, originally, he suggested the money could be used for the construction of a hydro-electric dam in Pursat province, but BHP wants parts of the money to go toward building schools and hospitals in Rattanakiri province.

Mr. Hun Sen added that all foreign mining and oil exploration companies that have put tenders to the Cambodian government have all made these kinds of payments. He said French petroleum giant Total has agreed to pay the Cambodian government $28 million for oil exploration rights in Block III in the Gulf of Sihanoukville. He said the payments were made up of $20 million for awarding the contracts and $8 million for social funds. When oil is discovered and extracted, Total will pay another $20 million to the Cambodian government, he said.

Mr. Hun Sen said all foreign companies, including Australian, French, American, British and Japanese, must include such payments in their tenders - comprising payments for the contract and social funds for building schools and hospitals.

In 2006, BHP Billiton and Japanese Mitsibishi were jointly awarded a contract to explore bauxite in 996 hectares of land in Rattanakiri province. However, in 2009, the companies abandoned the site after not enough bauxite was found in deposits in the areas.

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