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Thursday
Jul142011

Will News Corp Self Disclose?

News Corp chairman Rupert Murdoch. Photo from Wiki CommonsIn an earlier post, we said the DOJ isn't likely to jump into the News Corp scandal to investigate alleged bribes the company and its people may have paid to London police officials for access to information.

The U.K., we said, has strong antibribery laws and enforcement agencies, and every reason to investigate the bribery allegations and, if warranted, prosecute those responsible.

But there's another scenario out there.

Would News Corp (a 'domestic concern' and 'issuer' under the FCPA) consider an immediate and voluntary self disclosure to the DOJ and SEC?

It's possible.

Rupert Murdoch's decision to shut down the News of the World, the London paper where the phone hacking and bribery scandal started, took everyone by surprise. It was bold, aggressive, and lightning quick -- a master stroke of corporate damage control.

Using that same strategy in Washington might mean going now to the DOJ and SEC. 'Here's what we know so far about the alleged bribery. Here are the names of people who may have been involved. We'll give you real time updates from now on.'

That approach isn't uncommon for companies with potential FCPA violations. It gives them the best chance to negotiate a favorable resolution with the DOJ and SEC.

The DOJ doesn't say exactly how many FCPA cases start with self disclosure. But it's probably fifty percent or more. So the strategy is well known and must be on the minds of News Corp chief Rupert Murdoch and his legal team.

The allegations in this case are disgusting. Ordinary people in Britain, the U.S. (with the 9/11 connection), and beyond are rightly feeling revulsion and anger. Politicians on both sides of the Atlantic are up in arms.

Facing all that, News Corp has plenty to gain from a voluntary self disclosure. And with so much negative feeling already out there, there's probably little to lose.

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