US looking into Murdoch foreign payments

The US authorities are stepping up investigations, including an FBI criminal inquiry, into possible violations by employees of Rupert Murdoch’s media empire of a US law banning corrupt payments to foreign officials such as police, law enforcement and corporate sources said.

But US investigators have found little to substantiate allegations of phone hacking inside the United States by Murdoch journalists, the sources added.

The FBI is conducting an investigation into possible criminal violations by Murdoch employees of the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), a law intended to curb payment of bribes by US companies to foreign officials, a US law enforcement official said.

The US official said that if any law enforcement action was pursued by US authorities against Murdoch employees, it would most likely relate to FCPA.

If it is found to have violated the FCPA, Murdoch’s News Corp, which has its headquarters in New York, could be fined up to $2 million and barred from US government contracts, and individuals who participated in the bribery could face fines of up to $100,000 and a jail sentence of five years.

Executives could be liable if they authorized bribes or knew about the practice but failed to stop it.
In practice, US authorities have usually settled FCPA cases in return for large cash payments from companies, who can sometimes avoid legal admissions of guilt.

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