30 Jan 2006

American pension fund advisor reportedly challenging Freeport over Papua activities

8:40 pm on 30 January 2006

New York City official is reportedly seeking a probe of what he charges are "false or misleading" statements mining company Freeport-McMoran made about payments to the Indonesian military to secure its operations in Papua province.

The New York Times reports that William Thompson Jr., the investment adviser to the city's five pension funds, said in letters to the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Justice Department that Freeport may have violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

The law prohibits American companies from bribing foreign officials.

The Times said it obtained New Orleans-based Freeport documents from 1998 through 2004 showing the company paid nearly $20 million US dollars to individual military and police officers and units in the country's remote Papua Province, where Freeport runs the world's largest copper and gold mine.

Freeport says the payments were "ordinary business activities" and were within American and Indonesian laws.