FBI’s News Corp corruption probe now headed to Russia, sources say


New York – An FBI probe of alleged bribery by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation has broadened to include allegations of kickbacks in Russia, according to The Associated Press, which cites unnamed sources familiar with the investigation.

The expansion of the case, which arose out of the British phone hacking scandal that has engulfed News Corp’s British newspapers since last year, could significantly increase the company’s liability under a US anti-bribery statute but the investigation is likely to take time.

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Since 1977, the US has criminalized the paying of bribes to officials in foreign governments by publicly traded US corporations or their agents, imposing fines and penalties of hundreds of millions of dollars as a result of ill-gotten gains.

The AP said people familiar with the FBI probe revealed that investigators were looking to see if News Outdoor Russia, a billboard company that was once a subsidiary of News Corp, bribed Russian officials to obtain approvals for billboard placements.

Investigators are seeking to determine if News Corp engaged in a pattern of corrupt conduct in foreign countriues, according to the AP.

News Corp sold News Outdoor Russia together with a Romanian property in July.

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Twenty people so far have been arrested in the investigations of invasion of privacy and corruption in the UK but none have been charged.

Britain's former top police officer Paul Stephenson today expressed regret that his organization had failed in 2009 investigation allegations of News Corp phone hacking, according to Reuters.

"I think what happened in 2009 is that within the Met we developed a fixed mindset and a defensive mindset around this whole issue," Stephenson was quoted as saying. He directed London's Metropolitan Police for two-and-a-half years.

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