The Rupert Murdoch owned News of the World phone hacking corruption scandal has gone international.
On a day when David Cameron distanced himself from Rebekah Brooks, former editor of News of the World, the news just keeps getting worse for Rupert Murdoch and his son, James. The snowball of scandals is now international.
In an attempt to stem the disaster and possibly save their BSkyB deal, the Murdochs chose to close News of the World, leaving employees and reporters out of work and 2.7 million readers without their paper. Those reporters have stories to tell and since they are now out of work, they have little reason to protect their former employer. As the hacking scandal heats up, people will be racing to tell their side of the story. This doesn’t bode well for the Murdochs.
Friday, the Guardian reported that Murdoch’s son, James Murdoch, CEO of the US owned News Corp “could face corporate legal battles on both sides of the Atlantic that involve criminal charges, fines and forfeiture of assets…” James has already admitted misrepresenting facts relating to the phone hacking incidents to Parliament.
As deputy chief operating officer of News Corp – the US-listed company that is the ultimate owner of News International (NI), which in turn owns the News of the World, the Times, the Sunday Times and the Sun – the younger Murdoch has admitted he misled parliament over phone hacking, although he has stated he did not have the complete picture at the time. There have also been reports that employees routinely made payments to police officers, believed to total more than £100,000, in return for information.
The payments could leave News Corp – and possibly James Murdoch himself – facing the possibility of prosecution in the US under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) – legislation designed to stamp out bad corporate behaviour that carries severe penalties for anyone found guilty of breaching it – and in the UK under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 which outlaws the interception of communications….
While the UK phone-hacking scandal has been met with outrage in the US, the hacking itself is unlikely to prompt Washington officials into action. But because NI is a subsidiary of the US company, any payments to UK police officers could trigger a justice department inquiry under the FCPA.
The 1977 Act generally prohibits American companies and citizens from corruptly paying – or offering to pay – foreign officials to obtain or retain business. The Butler University law professor Mike Koehler, an FCPA expert, said: “I would be very surprised if the US authorities don’t become involved in this [NI] conduct.”
To add to their troubles, Bob Brown, senator and leader of Australia’s Green party, has called on the government to investigate Rupert Murdoch’s media holdings in Australia. The BBC reported Friday that “Mr Brown said the potential for similar activity in Australia should be probed.” Speaking to Reuters News agency, he added, “We have the most Murdoch media ownership of any country in the world with eight of the 12 metropolitan dailies owned by the Murdoch empire. I think that it’s just prudent to take a raincheck at this stage, because the events unfolding in London are so serious, and it would be irresponsible for us not to look at the potential for similar operations to have occurred in Australia.”
The Australian government has put a hold on Murdoch’s Sky News bidding to run a previous ABC contract for a government-funded international TV service. The UK has also put a hold on Murdoch’s takeover of BSkyB after Ofcom raised concerns as to whether News Corp is a fit-and-proper owner for BSkyB. The 14 billion dollar take over is the biggest deal in Murdoch’s career and today, BSkyB’s stock fell 8%.
Keith Olbermann, barely able to contain his smile over the mere notion that justice might be served finally in regards to Murdoch, interviewed Murdoch biographer Michael Wolff on Current TV Friday night:
Raw Story’s David Edwards broke down Keith Olbermann’s interview with Murdoch biographer Michael Wolff on Current TV:
“This is a company that’s all about — it’s about power,” Wolff explained. “You hurt me, you diss me, we smack you down.” He added, “These people will do anything.”
“Is James Murdoch really at legal risk?” Olbermann asked.
“I think it’s an exaggeration, somewhat,” Wolff replied, but he quickly noted, “Anything could happen now. … The unimaginable is now occurring.”
“This is the snowball effect,” Wolff said, explaining that when it comes to Rupert Murdoch, “these politicians … in the UK have had to put up with this guy for a long time. He’s never been pleasant about it. He’s always extracted blood. So finally there’s an opportunity. ‘We can get rid of this guy.’”
Wolff concluded by saying that we can expect “new revelations every day” as “more shoes drop.”
The UK has already put a hold on Murdoch’s BSkyB takeover, Australia is now probing the Aussie Murdoch empire and the US could file charges. And this story is just getting started.
Watch the people running away the fastest and those whom Rupert & Co do not dump (Brooks), because those clues will tell you the real story of just how deep the criminal corruption scandal goes. The Murdoch empire is under great strain and it’s only going to get worse if Murdoch continues to deal with things as he has been. The Murdoch boat is taking on water and he may not be able to contain the damage.