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U.S. probing Microsoft for allegedly bribing foreign officials

March 19, 2013|By Salvador Rodriguez
  • Microsoft is being investigated by federal regulators for allegedly bribing foreign government officials in China, Romania and Italy, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Microsoft is being investigated by federal regulators for allegedly bribing… (Sebastian Kahnert / EPA )

Microsoft is being investigated by federal agencies for allegedly bribing foreign government officials in order to secure software contracts, according a report Tuesday.

The Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission are looking into allegations that the Redmond-Wash. tech company and its partners offered kickbacks to officials in China, Romania and Italy, according to the Wall Street Journal. The investigation comes after the agencies were tipped off by an anonymous whistle-blower.

Citing unnamed sources, the report says an executive of Microsoft's China subsidiary allegedly instructed the anonymous whistle-blower to offer kickbacks to a Chinese official so that the company could secure a software contract.

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The investigation is also looking into whether Microsoft was involved in offering bribes to Romania's Ministry of Communications in order to land software deals there, too. Similarly, the investigation is looking at whether Microsoft's Italian branch used consultants to give Italian officials "gifts and trips" for government business there.

John Frank, Microsoft's vice president and deputy general counsel, told the Journal that Microsoft will cooperate fully in any government inquiry.

"We take all allegations seriously and investigate them fully regardless of the source," Frank said. "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."

The report says Microsoft has conducted an internal investigation of its employees, conducted by an outside firm, and found no evidence of wrongdoing.

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