News Corp. Hires Five Leaders for Compliance Team in Wake of Phone Hacking Scandal

2012-13 REP Rupert Murdoch H

Since Murdoch joined Twitter on Dec. 31, the News Corp. CEO has amassed more than 211,000 followers while lobbing 140-character grenades at enemies near and far. Lately he has taken an interest in the U.S. presidential race.

UPDATED: The conglomerate has added a top executive from the SEC, a former federal prosecutor and others to report to general counsel Gerson Zweifach under a previously unveiled structure.

LONDON - Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. has hired five executives to help lead its compliance efforts in the wake of the phone hacking scandal.

It has brought on board a top executive from the Securities and Exchange Commission and a former federal prosecutor and three others to lead new compliance teams at its publishing and entertainment units, a spokesman sad. Each will be in charge of a different geographical and functional group of the conglomerate.

The new hires will report to Gerson Zweifach, who News Corp. brought on board earlier this year as general counsel. He has since added the role as chief compliance officer, pushing ahead efforts to establish a team and procedures that can help avoid the problems that surfaced in the phone hacking scandal.

News Corp., which is planning to split its entertainment business from its publishing business, said this summer that it would organize its compliance program into five groups - the LA cable and broadcast group, the LA film and TV production operation, the Europe and Asia group, the Australia group and the New York news and information group. The five hires will each lead one of them.

Among the new hires is John McCoy, who has most recently served as associate regional director of the SEC's operation in Los Angeles. Also joining the conglomerate's compliance team is Brian Michael, an ex-prosecutor for the U.S. attorney's office in New York.

Murdoch told staff in an August memo that outlined his company's new ethics and compliance initiatives that News Corp has "made progress" on assurances he gave to the Leveson Inquiry into media ethics and standards "to redress wrong-doing, cooperate with law enforcement officials and strengthen our compliance and ethics program company-wide."

News Corp. has also recently highlighted comments from Scotland Yard deputy assistant commissioner Sue Akers, who is leading the U.K. police probe into phone hacking, that conceded the company culture has changed: "She agreed that the current senior management and corporate approach at News International has been to assist and come clean," it has said.

"This summer, we began building and rolling out an enhanced training platform for all our employees, worldwide," Zweifach said in a staff memo on Monday. "I am pleased to report that we continue to make important progress with the appointment of five group chief compliance officers (GCCOs), each of whom will assume a full-time role ensuring that our businesses operate with the highest level of integrity. Their success depends on your support for their work: strengthening our training programs, building on internal controls, auditing the effectiveness of our compliance program and remediating any problems quickly and effectively."

Lisa Fleischman becomes the GCCO for the company's New York-based news and information businesses and will also serve as News Corp.’s deputy chief compliance officer. "Lisa was a federal prosecutor with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New York and then worked at HBO, before joining News Corporation two years ago," Zweifach said.

The GCCO for the Fox Networks Group, based in LA, is Michael. McCoy will be the GCCO for the film and TV studios, also based in LA.

The GCCO in Europe and Asia, based in London, will be Candy Lawson, who joins News Corp. from Morgan Stanley where she was anti-corruption counsel for Europe, the Middle East and Africa. 

The GCCO for the Australia group is Keith Wood, an accountant in Sydney who will also continue to serve as the director of internal audit and risk for News Corp.'s Australia business.

Twitter: @georgszalai