In the wake of allegations of police bribery by journalists at the News of the World, U.S. lawmakers have called for investigations into whether Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation, which is incorporated in the United States, violated the FCPA by allegedly bribing law enforcement officials to gain access to private telephone information and records.
Senators Barbara Boxer and John D. Rockefeller IV, Chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, are among the lawmakers who called on Attorney General Eric Holder and SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro to investigate News Corporation. Senator Frank R. Lautenberg also wrote in a letter to the DOJ and the SEC heads, that News Corporation may have violated the FCPA, based on the reports that journalist for a company subsidiary, News International, “paid London police officers for information, including private telephone information, about the British royal family and other individuals for use in newspaper articles.
Attorney General Eric Holder has since announced that the DOJ has opened a formal investigation into allegations that News Corporation may have violated U.S. law, including the FCPA.
In addition to the anti-bribery provisions, the FCPA also requires a US-based company, such as News Corporation, and its foreign subsidiaries, in this case News International, to maintain accurate books, records and internal controls. Therefore, along with potential criminal charges in connection with the alleged bribery, News Corporation could also face a civil action for suspect accounting over the phone hacking scandal at the News of the World. A civil case would require a much lower burden of proof and could still carry heavy fines and compliance penalties.
Finally, the Federal Bureau of Investigation is apparently investigating whether News Corporation illegally accessed phone records of victims of the 9/11 attacks.