News Wrap

IN THIS morning’s News Wrap: BHP in bribery probe over Olympic gifts; Tinkler finances to be laid bare in court; and commodities sell-off has gone too far, says Goldman.

Staff Reporter

BHP in bribery probe over Olympic gifts

BHP Billiton is under a joint US-Australian investigation for possible bribery over alleged inducements, hospitality or gifts given to foreign officials, including Chinese dignitaries wooed as part of a multi-million dollar hospitality and sponsorship program for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, according to the Australian Financial Review.

The investigations involve the criminal division of the US Department of Justice and the Australian Federal Police. The company and a small number of its staff or consultants may face the prospect of criminal charges or other serious sanctions.

Laws that may be examined in the investigation are the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and Australian state or federal corporate and criminal laws, including foreign bribery laws that prohibit any benefit being given to a public official to obtain a business advantage.

Tinkler finances to be laid bare in court

Lawyers for the liquidators of one of Nathan Tinkler’s private companies plan to reveal his 2011 taxable income was just $9000 as they pursue him for failure to stump up $28.4 million for a share placement in Blackwood Corp, according to the Australian Financial Review.

Unless Tinkler settles the dispute by tomorrow, he will have to appear before the NSW Supreme Court to face questions about his personal finances that may damage his reputation.

A judge ruled yesterday that examinations by liquidators that could see his finances laid bare were not an abuse of court processes and ordered Tinkler to pay costs.

Commodities sell-off has gone too far, says Goldman

Hedge funds cut bets on a commodity rally to a four-year low on signs of surplus supply in everything from coffee to zinc, before Goldman Sachs Group said prices had fallen too far and investors should buy, according to the Australian Financial Review.

Speculators reduced net-long positions across 18 US futures and options in the first week of March by 9.2%, the lowest since March 2009, US Commodity Futures Trading Commission data shows.

They are the most bearish on copper in four years, and are also betting on declines for coffee, hogs, sugar, soybean oil, wheat and natural gas.

Commodities retreated 4.8% since reaching a four-month high on February 13, even as optimism about the global economy drove the MSCI All-Country World Index of equities to a 56-month peak.

Goldman raised its three-month outlook for raw materials to “overweight” from “neutral” on March 7, saying accelerating Chinese growth would support prices.