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Tuesday
Feb032015

DOJ declinations for News Corp and 21st Century Fox

Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox Inc. and News Corp said Monday they won't be prosecuted by the DOJ for hacking voice mails or making payments to public officials in the UK.

News Corp spun off Fox in 2013. 21st Century Fox now holds the entertainment assets and News Corp holds the publishing assets.

Gerson Zweifach, general counsel of both companies, said in a statement: “21st Century Fox and News Corp have been notified by the United States Department of Justice that it has completed its investigation of voicemail interception and payments to public officials in London, and is declining to prosecute either company. We are grateful that this matter has been concluded and acknowledge the fairness and professionalism of the Department of Justice throughout this investigation.”

When the phone hacking and bribery scandals hit The News of the World in 2011, Murdoch quickly shut down the London-based tabloid. Journalists at The News of the World allegedly bribed London police officials for access to non-public information.

In June last year, Rebekah Brooks, the former head of News Corp in Britain, was acquitted of phone hacking, bribery, and other charges by a London jury after a seven-month trial.

Andy Coulson, the former tabloid editor, was found guilty of one count of hacking. He was sentenced to 18 months in prison and released after five months. He faces a retrial on charges of buying a household directory from an official serving the British royal family.

News Corp and 21st Century Fox spent a combined $551 million in settlements and legal fees connected with the scandal through last June, according to the Wall Street Journal, which is owned by News Corp.

The companies in their disclosures Monday didn't mention the SEC or its investigation into the phone hacking or bribery allegations.

*     *     *

Here are the disclosures of the DOJ declinations from Form 8-Ks filed by News Corp and Twenty-First Century Fox with the SEC on February 2, 2014:

On January 28, 2015, News Corporation (the "Company") was notified by the United States Department of Justice that it has completed its investigation of voicemail interception and payments to public officials in London and is declining to prosecute the Company or Twenty-First Century Fox, Inc.

On January 28, 2015, Twenty-First Century Fox, Inc. (the "Company") was notified by the United States Department of Justice that it has completed its investigation of voicemail interception and payments to public officials in London, and is declining to prosecute the Company or News Corporation.

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Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog. He can be contacted here.