Microsoft involved in bribery probe

Nick Wingfield / New York Times News Service /

Published Mar 20, 2013 at 05:00AM

SEATTLE — Federal authorities are examining Microsoft’s involvement with companies and individuals that allegedly paid bribes to overseas government officials in exchange for business.

The U.S. Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission have both opened preliminary investigations into the bribery allegations involving Microsoft in China, Italy and Romania, according to a person briefed on the probe, who declined to be named because the software company considers the inquiry a confidential legal matter.

Microsoft’s practices in those countries are being looked at for potential violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, a federal law that prohibits U.S. companies from making illegal payments to government officials and others overseas to further their business interests.

In a blog post Tuesday afternoon, John Frank, vice president and deputy general counsel of Microsoft, said the company couldn’t comment about ongoing inquiries. Frank said it was not uncommon for such government reviews to find that allegations were without merit.

“We take all allegations brought to our attention seriously and we cooperate fully in any government inquiries,” Frank said in the blog post. “Like other large companies with operations around the world we sometimes receive allegations about potential misconduct by employees or business partners and we investigate them fully regardless of the source. We also invest heavily in proactive training, monitoring and audits to ensure our business operations around the world meet the highest legal and ethical standards.”

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