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Facing Bribery Inquiry, News Corp. Lawyers Up With Former Federal Prosecutors

The embattled media conglomerate News Corporation and its independent directors have not only hired top criminal defense lawyers, they’ve also hired former Justice Department prosecutors well-versed in U.S. bribery law.

The new hires are a sign that the company is taking the Justice Department’s preliminary investigation—and the potential that the inquiry may turn specifically to bribery—rather seriously. (Read our story on why News Corp. may have good reason to worry.)

The company has hired Mark Mendelsohn, who until last year was the Justice Department’s top enforcer of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act—and an aggressive one, at that. Here’s FCPA expert Richard Cassin, writing on the FCPA Blog about Mendelsohn’s enforcement record:

Mendelsohn's view of the FCPA and American anti-corruption policy wasn't complicated. He pushed enforcement against corporations of any size and from any country. … He also led the government's charge against individual FCPA defendants—among them KBR's Jack Stanley, entrepreneur Frederic Bourke, and the 22 shot-show defendants. 

As the UK’s Guardian notes, a full investigation of possible FCPA violations would likely drag other News Corp. subsidiaries into the mess—a costly and time-consuming process, but one that Mendelsohn will be able to help the company navigate. 

The company’s independent directors, meanwhile, have hired former federal prosecutor Mary Jo White, who in 2007 conducted a major internal investigation of Siemens when it faced bribery allegations. News Corp. has also hired former U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey, who in addition to having experience with internal investigations also has an unusual connection to the FCPA.

As we've noted, Mukasey was hired in March as a lobbyist for the Institute for Legal Reform, an affiliate of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. His lobbying registration shows he’s working specifically to roll back aggressive enforcement of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

The inquiry into News Corp. is still very early. So far the Justice Department has said that the FBI, in response to media reports and a request from lawmakers, is investigating whether News Corp. tried to hack into the voicemails of 9/11 victims and whether its payments to U.K. law enforcement violated the FCPA. 

Barry Schmittou

July 21, 2011, 1:27 p.m.

So we’ve got former U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey working specifically to roll back aggressive enforcement laws ...

We’ve got former DOJ prosecutors defending one of the world’s wealthiest men ...

And the current DOJ hands out Non Prosecution Agreements to repeat corporate offenders like candy at Halloween !!

And many crime victims lives have been destroyed while Bush and Obama have led prayers with the vigor and sincerity of Billy Graham !!

My hope is that enough voters learn to read.

Voters neet to be able to recognize treasonous offenses by the Republicans and TeaParitiers when it comes time to vote.

Many of the things Mukasey and many like him are supporting are literally supporting an upcoming Fascist regime in the USA, for the benefit of the wealthy and the corporations. 

To me, that is TREASON.

Pretty hard to have any “justice” when the Justice Department itself is a criminal organization! Wow!

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