Under the law, a "US person" includes corporations charted in the United States, and Rupert Murdoch's empire, aka News Corp, is a US person. Which means News Corp is subject to US law, including the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

It now seems clear that employees of News Corp bribed British cops to spike their investigation into the News of the World phone hacking scheme. Which is not only a violation of British law, it's also a violation of the FCPA, which makes it illegal for a US person to pay a foreign public official to

induce the foreign official to do or omit to do an act in violation of his or her lawful duty

In this case, foreign police were paid by NOTW (a News Corp subsidiary) to not investigate several thousand crimes that it was committing. That would certainly seem to be a violation of US law.

The Guardian (as usual) is already on this, predicting criminal charges against James Murdoch, Rupert's son and CEO of the NOTW.

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."

He said the scandal appeared to qualify as an FCPA case on two counts. First, News Corp is a US-listed company, giving the US authorities jurisdiction to investigate allegations. "Second, perhaps more importantly, the act requires that payments to government officials need to be in the furtherance of 'obtaining or retaining' business. If money is being paid to officials, in this case the police, in order to get information to write sensational stories to sell newspapers, that would qualify," he said.

But it gets even better:

Conduct that violates the anti-bribery provisions of the FCPA may also give rise to a private cause of action for treble damages under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), or to actions under other federal or state laws. For example, an action might be brought under RICO by a competitor who alleges that the bribery led to the defendant winning a foreign contract.

In other words, a UK competitor of News Corp (and there are still lots of non-Murdoch papers in Britain, like the Guardian) could sue News Corp in US court for violations of RICO based on News Corp's bribery of public officials. They would have to prove monetary damages (in terms of lost circulation), but having done so they could collect three times the damages in fines.

And and and ...

According to RICO, a whistleblower within the corrupt organization would be entitled to as much as one-third of any damages collected. Which means millions await those now laid-off staffers of NOTW who are willing to squeal on their bosses.

Let the games begin!

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