The Wall Street Journal, owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., said it investigated allegations of bribery in China by its employees.
‘The Justice Department last year opened an investigation into allegations that employees at The Wall Street Journal’s China news bureau bribed Chinese officials for information for news articles,’ according to a report published Sunday by the paper.
The internal investigation found ‘no evidence to support the claim, according to government and corporate officials familiar with the case,’ the WSJ said.
The investigation in China was triggered by an anonymous whistleblower who said Journal employees had given gifts to Chinese government officials in exchange for information, the report said.
News Corp. told the DOJ the whistleblower may have been ‘an agent of the Chinese government, seeking to disrupt and possibly retaliate against the Journal for its reporting on China’s leadership,’ the story said.
‘An array of Western companies has been targeted by Chinese hackers in recent years, including recently some U.S. media firms such as New York Times Co. The Obama administration has stepped up its calls on China to curtail such activity,’ the Wall Street Journal said.
Two years ago, more than a dozen journalists from News Corp.’s U.K. papers were arrested on suspicion of bribing U.K. police and officials in return for confidential information.
In response to the U.K. scandal, Murdoch closed the News of the World newspaper.
Last year, News Corp. revamped its compliance program.
Murdoch said then: ‘We recognize that strengthening our compliance programs will take time and resources, but the costs of non-compliance — in terms of reputational harm, investigations, lawsuits, and distraction from our mission to deliver on our promise to consumers — are far more serious.’
Last week News Corp. said ‘we’ve delivered on our commitment to uncover wrongdoing and feel confident about the work we’ve done to put us on the right path, including sweeping changes to our global internal controls, compliance programs and ethics requirements.’
News Corp. hired Washington, D.C. law firm Williams & Connolly to handle the FCPA case and global investigation.
The investigation is nearly complete, with a final report about all FCPA issues scheduled for delivery to the DOJ next month, the WSJ said.
‘Several U.S. officials said senior Justice Department lawyers are increasingly skeptical any criminal charges would be filed against individuals at the company, although the investigation continues,’ the Wall Street Journal said.