News Corp Inches Closer to US Bribery Probe

Saturday's arrests mark 'an escalation in the risk,' reports the 'Guardian'

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted Feb 13, 2012 9:00 AM CST

(Newser) – Saturday's arrest of five journalists at Britain's Sun over alleged bribery may have increased the likelihood of a new investigation of News Corp—on this side of the pond. The US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act makes it a crime for US companies to bribe public officials overseas, and prosecution could mean tens of millions of dollars in fines for News Corp, which is headquartered in New York, as well as jail time for executives, the Guardian reports. One FCPA law expert explains why the arrests ratcheted up the risk: They "spread the alleged bribery to a completely different newspaper, to a different segment of the company, and to other public officials."

Mark Lewis, a lawyer representing phone-hacking victims, is set to visit the US in the coming weeks to discuss the matter. Lewis said he was "not prepared to deny" reports that he is in the "advanced stages" of launching a US case against News Corp. The SEC is also reportedly looking into false names in company records at News Corp's News International. "The Department of Justice and SEC wouldn't be doing their job if they didn't ask what the executive officers of the company knew about corruption and whether they authorized it, or did anything to stop it," added the expert.

Rupert Murdoch and his wife Wendi arrive at the 69th Annual Golden Globe Awards Sunday, Jan. 15, 2012, in Los Angeles.   (AP Photo/Matt Sayles)
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