Activists Demand Full Accountability as Phone Hacking Scandal Spreads Across The Atlantic

The government accountability group is urging the FBI and the SEC to launch parallel criminal and civil investigations into Rupert Murdoch's media empire in the United States for possible prosecution under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act in the wake of the phone-hacking scandal in the United Kingdom.

The umbrella group, representing grassroots activists across the country, sent a letter today to both the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Security and Exchange Commission asserting that the scandal overseas was in and of itself evidence of violation of the Act, because the company is headquartered in the United States, and urged both agencies to seek warrants to search the company's New York offices. It also pointed to evidence that phone hacking by News Corp journalists and editors may have spread across the Atlantic.

The letter, written by lawyer Kevin Zeese, described the extent of the phone hacking as "staggering" and pointed to recent revelations and admissions by News Corp executives that its employees have engaged in "widespread obstruction of justice, bribery and destruction of evidence." According to one British news report today, a private investigator in New York was approached by the company for help in tracking down the phone records of 9/11 victims so their voice mails could be illegally accessed.

"It is clear that News Corp has violated the [Foreign Corrupt Practices] Act on an industrial scale," the letter said. "Rupert Murdoch moved to the US and became an American citizen in 1985 in order to take advantage of our laws yet his company under his leadership has blatantly violated American law by bribing foreign officials in order to increase revenues.”

"And now we learn that News Corp executives deleted millions of incriminating emails and engaged in other conduct in order to obstruct investigation and cover up its criminal enterprise,” said Mr. Zeese. “It is unacceptable for any person or company, especially one who specifically moved here because of our laws, to violate those laws in a manner that gives them an unjust advantage over those who follow the law. We therefore are demanding that News Corp and all its guilty employees be prosecuted, fined and jailed to fullest extent allowed by law.”

The letter sets out the severe civil and criminal penalties available for violations of the Act. For example, corporations can be fined up to $25 million for each willful violation of the Act. Individuals can be sentenced to 20 years and a $5 million fine per violation. A corporation can be prohibited from conducting business with the U.S. Government, and individuals can be prohibited from serving as an officer or director of the company.

The full text of the letter can be accessed HERE:


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