You are hereHuffington Post: Senator Calls For News Corp. Probe Amid Bribery, Hacking Allegations

Huffington Post: Senator Calls For News Corp. Probe Amid Bribery, Hacking Allegations


-By Michael Calderone

July 13, 2011- As Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. empire continues to crumble in response to the phone hacking scandal in U.K., one powerful U.S. Senator is calling for a probe into the conglomerate to see if misconduct occurred on this side of the Atlantic.

Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), the chairman of the commerce committee, urged government agencies late Tuesday to investigate News Corp's practices in the U.S., including reported targeting of Americans. The push comes as British Prime Minister David Cameron announced plans for an inquiry into the phone hacking scandal that's rocked the UK and as News Corp. announced it would withdraw its $12 billion bid to gain full control over British Sky Broadcasting because of the scandal.

"The reported hacking by News Corporation newspapers against a range of individuals -- including children -- is offensive and a serious breach of journalistic ethics," Rockefeller said in a statement.

"This raises serious questions about whether the company has broken U.S. law, and I encourage the appropriate agencies to investigate to ensure that Americans have not had their privacy violated," Rockefeller continued. "I am concerned that the admitted phone hacking in London by the News Corp. may have extended to 9/11 victims or other Americans. If they did, the consequences will be severe."

The Daily Mirror reported Monday that journalists at the now-shuttered News of the World tried paying a New York City police officer to provide phone records of victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. News of the World journalists are believed to have hacked the phones of nearly 4,000 people, including family members of victims of the UK's 7/7 terrorist attack.

But its not only the phone hacking that's prompting calls for U.S. government action. There are also allegations that employees of News International, the conglomerate's UK newspaper arm, bribed British police officers, which could be considered a violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, a U.S. federal law.

Andy Coulson, a former News of the World editor and former Cameron media chief, was arrested last week in connection with allegations of bribery.

Alexandra Wrage, a legal expert on bribery who is the president of anti-bribery compliance association TRACE, told Reuters that improper accounting practices used to mask bribes is a violation of the law.

"How did they account for these payments?" she asked. "If you falsify, misrepresent on your books what this money was spent on, straight out of the box you have a FCPA violation."

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