Alexandra Wrage, president of Trace, a not-for-profit firm that helps companies comply with anti-bribery laws, believes US federal authorities will “go after” News Corporation under the the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (the FCPA). The 1977 law bans American firms from paying bribes to government officials abroad. “News Corp. is a U.S. company, and the FCPA was designed to prohibit companies based in the U.S. or trading on U.S. stock exchanges from paying bribes to government officials — very broadly defined, certainly to include police officers — overseas,” Wrage told National Public Radio.
The payments involved in the US investigation are those about which News International (the British subsidiary of News Corp) is reported to have passed evidence to police that people acting on its behalf paid police the equivalent of $200,000 for confidential information.
Wrage says she ultimately expects federal authorities to go after News Corp. in this case, and that the company will yield.
“I think there’s a lot of background noise over which points the company could win and which the Justice Department would be likely to win, or the SEC for that matter,” Wrage said. “I just don’t think that’s going to be the final analysis.
“The final analysis is going to be: If it’s as bad as it sounds, how quickly can they settle? What remedial measures will they have to implement? And how bad will the fine be?”
The Justice Department has indicated it is monitoring the investigation in the U.K., while the SEC would not comment on its level of interest in the case.