Sunday, July 24, 2011

FBI inquiry of Murdoch's empire: reliance on Brits

The FBI is just cranking up a preliminary review of whether alleged phone hacking and bribery by Rupert Murdoch's media empire violated U.S. laws, but any resolution may well have to await the outcome of British investigations.
The FBI's early fact-gathering could turn into a long saga that tests or reinforces the long-standing cooperation between U.S. and British law enforcement. Most of the records and witnesses to prove or disprove the allegations are in the hands of British investigators.
The problem for Murdoch is that his business, not just his now-shuttered British tabloid News of the World, faces investigations on two continents. That includes a nascent FBI probe. Depending upon what turns up, it could head in unexpected directions, perhaps threatening other Murdoch properties, which include the Fox television network.
News Corp., Murdoch's New York-headquartered parent company, is assembling a gold-plated roster of lawyers to deal with any U.S. legal action. According to published reports, the company has signed up Brendan Sullivan, the high-priced Washington criminal defense attorney, and Mark Mendelsohn, an acknowledged expert on the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act
Sullivan is famous for defending Oliver North against Iran-Contra scandal charges and Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, against corruption counts. Mendelsohn ran the Justice Department unit that enforced the anti-foreign-bribery statute from 2005 to 2010.
News Corp., Sullivan and Mendelsohn would not confirm the hirings.
For now, U.S. investigators are not only looking at the phone hacking and bribery allegations but also kicking the tires on any other allegations against Murdoch entities that appear in print or even old court records. That includes reviewing old allegations from a civil lawsuit that a unit of News Corp. hacked into computers of a small advertising competitor in New Jersey and obtained confidential information it used lure away clients.
Separately, the FBI plans to question actor Jude Law about allegations his phone was hacked while he was in the U.S., according to the BBC. Law has sued the Murdoch-owned Sun tabloid for allegedly hacking into Law's voicemail for stories about his private life.More...

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