This needs must be quick because the unofficial news has just hit the street, but for those of you who think Holder and the Department of Justice aren’t taking the what Gordon Brown has called the ‘criminal media nexus’ seriously, Bloomberg just has this
News Corp. was sent a letter by U.S. prosecutors investigating foreign bribery, requesting information on alleged payments employees made to U.K. police for tips, according to a person with knowledge of the matter.
The letter is part of an effort by the U.S. Justice Department to determine whether News Corp. violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, or FCPA, according to the person, who declined to be identified because the matter isn’t public. News Corp. fell 1.7 percent on the news.
The FCPA is has always, along with the RICO statues, been the most likely route to get at the modal corruption displayed by Newscorp. Since there is a whole separate investigation into the systematic subornment and payment to police officers in the UK, this one has legs… more than the yet unproven hacking of 9/11 victims.
The inquiry advances an existing U.S. probe that is reviewing claims that victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks had their phones hacked by News Corp. employees. The letter doesn’t carry the same legal force as a grand jury subpoena, which would compel a response under law.
The FCPA, enacted in 1977, makes it a crime for U.S. businesses or their employees to pay off representatives of a foreign government in an attempt to gain a commercial advantage. Federal prosecutors have broad discretion to interpret the law and its definition of who qualifies as a government official.
So all the stateside lobbying is having an effect. I’ll update this when new information comes in. But this is the weakest point of the Murdoch Empire in the legal terms.
In other news, News International is reported to be offering £3 million (approx $5 million) to the family of Milly Dowler, the murder victim whose phone was hacked during her disappearance. Given that she was just one of 4,000 people known to have their private voice mail messages illegally access (and it was more than just putting in a standard pin number) the potential legal liabilities here are massive. But as even the Deputy Prime Minister says:
No amount of money can “absolve” News International of the “grotesque” hacking of the phone of murdered teenager Milly Dowler, Nick Clegg said on Tuesday.
And to add to Rupert’s woes, his old rival Ted Turner has said he can’t survive
“I think he’s going to have to step down. He hadn’t survived anything like this. This is serious.”
Ouch. That has got to leave a mark.