BHP accused of avoiding taxes

Miner said to have wrongfully claimed jewellery, entertainment expenses.

BHP Billiton (BHP) has been accused of avoiding paying Colombian nickel royalties by claiming wrongful expenses, including for jewellery and entertainment, Bloomberg reports.

The news service, citing the preliminary findings of a Colombian government audit, says BHP's Cerro Matoso ferronickel mine underpaid 62 billion pesos ($34 million) in taxes between 1998 and 2003 when adjusted to today’s prices.

The miner is said to have achieved the savings by claiming expenses including a gold watch strap, English classes, concerts and a production of ‘The Vagina Monologues'.

“There were some ‘costs’ applied to the royalties that clearly are not part of those related to the production activity,” the government report says, according to Bloomberg.

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