Could the Latest News Corp. Arrests Lead to a U.S. Investigation?

The new year is not off to the rosiest of starts for News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch. On Saturday five senior journalists at his London tabloid the Sun were arrested and charged with bribing public officials for information. This spate of arrests is the latest development in Scotland Yard’s ongoing investigation into News Corp.’s ever-expanding corruption scandal, which led to last summer’s closing of the tabloid News of the World, home to phone hacking and other underhanded approaches to sleuthing the news.

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Here at Free Press we’ve long been concerned about News Corp.’s vast and ever-expanding sphere of influence. Murdoch has been none too shy about abusing access to politicians to advance his corporate agenda. The most recent arrests — at the flagship in Murdoch’s London empire, no less — make it clear that there is much more to uncover in this scandal.

In particular, the charges of bribery raise the likelihood that News Corp.’s actions may have violated the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. The FCPA gives the Justice Department and the Securities Exchange Commission the power to investigate overseas bribery charges against companies with headquarters in the U.S. To that end the Guardian reported on Monday that the company’s top executives could face prosecution under the FCPA’s so-called "willful blindness" clause, which holds them culpable if they “chose to be unaware of any specific wrongdoing by their employees.”

It’s no surprise that News Corp. has decided to staff up on lawyers — including Mark Mendelsohn, who once headed the Justice Department's FCPA division — who are expert in defending corporations against FCPA prosecution. Washington’s “revolving door” may spin to Murdoch’s advantage in this case. Or not. Time will tell as more evidence comes to light in the U.K.

This is why we continue to urge Congress and the Justice Department to investigate reports that News Corp.’s alleged criminal practices may be at work on this side of the Atlantic.

You can take action here. And check out our Murdoch resources page, which has information about News Corp.’s impact on U.S. media policy.

If you care about holding News Corp. accountable, please donate to the Free Press Action Fund. Thank you.

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