News Corp. FBI Probe Turns to Russia
NEW YORK - An FBI probe into Rupert Murdoch-led News Corp. has turned to a Russian billboard company that the media conglomerate used to own, opening another legal front for the company that has been embroiled in the phone hacking scandal, the Wall Street Journal reported. http://online.wsj.com/article
The investigation is looking into whether News Outdoor Russia paid bribes to local officials to approve sign placements, the paper, which is part of News Corp., reported, citing people familiar with the situation. The FBI is looking at whether any overseas units of News Corp. engaged in bribery and, if so, whether that behavior was part of a pattern of corruption that reached across countries, according to the Journal.
News Corp. sold its majority stake in the Russian firm in July.
Asked about possible corruption, a spokesman for the Russian company told the Journal: "This is not possible." He added that "News Outdoor Russia was an investment project for News Corp. and [News Corp.] didn't participate in the operations of the company." A News Corp. spokeswoman declined to comment.
The Journal also said that U.S. authorities continue to closely monitor the U.K. probe into News Corp.'s newspapers there and have made their own inquiries into allegations of bribery there. But they have yet to reach any conclusions, it said. The U.S. investigation began last summer after reports that the U.K. newspaper business may have hacked into phone messages of 9/11 victims and their families. No evidence for that has been found, the Journal said, citing sources.