News Corp.’s UK scandals could soon embroil Rupert Murdoch’s US business interests, reports say

GlobalPost

Rupert Murdoch's US interests, namely News Corporation, is reportedly facing the prospect of a full-blown inquiry by US authorities in the wake of the UK phone tapping scandal and a continuing investigation into alleged bribery of British public officials.

The British lawyer for alleged victims of phone-hacking by Murdoch's UK papers — include the family of Milly Dowler, a missing teenager whose voice mail was allegedly hacked by "News of The World" before she was found murdered — said Monday that he was flying to the US to meet lawyers there, CNN reported.

According to the Guardian, Mark Lewis was reported to be in the "advanced stages" of bringing at least one case against News Corporation, Murdoch's company, which is headquartered in New York. 

The Guardian wrote that:

The threat of prosecution under the US foreign corrupt practices act, which criminalizes the payment of bribes to public officials by American companies overseas, exposes the company to tens of millions of dollars in fines and the risk of imprisonment of its executive officers — and brings the fallout from the phone-hacking scandal to the US.

In a separate report, the paper wrote that News Corp. executives could also be vulnerable to individual prosecution by US anti-bribery authorities "under the so-called 'willful blindness' clause that holds company chiefs culpable if they chose to be unaware of any specific wrongdoing by their employees."

It claimed that the FBI was already probing Rupert Murdoch's media empire under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which makes it illegal for a US person or company to pay foreign officials to obtain or retain business. 

However, Lewis for his part declined to comment on reports that he might take legal action against media magnate in the US.

Murdoch, Murdoch, chairman and chief executive of News Corp., which is the parent company of News International, owner of The Sun and The Times newspapers, flew to London in the wake of the latest round of arrests of journalists at Britain's best-selling newspaper, The Sun, over the weekend.

The crisis worsened for Murdoch overnight, after the paper's own journalists expressed anger at News Corp's management and standards committee, which had handed information to the police that led to the arrests of nine journalists from the tabloid over the last three weeks.

Also caught up in the bribery claims are a serving officer in Surrey Police, a Ministry of Defense employee and a serving officer in the Armed Forces, who were also detained by officers from Operation Elveden.

Britain's Telegraph newspaper, meantime, has quoted Trevor Kavanagh, the paper's former political editor and for years a close confidant of Murdoch, describing the arrest of Sun journalists as a "witch hunt" designed to protect the integrity of News Corporation.

Kavanagh reportedly told Radio 4 that "there is unease about the way that some of the best journalists in Fleet Street have ended up being arrested on evidence that the MSC has handed to the police," a reference to News Corp's powerful management and standards committee.

In another interview, on Radio 5 Live, he accused "certain parts of the company" of "boasting that they are sending information to police that has put these people I have just described into police cells."

Lewis, meantime, said the purpose of his planned visit to the US was "as always to represent my clients properly."

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