Koehler calls this a “valid point,” but not one that is unique to News Corp. The same argument could be made against every case involving the FCPA; to be overreaching and extraterritorial is the very spirit of the law. The FCPA was established to hold US corporations (like News Corp.) accountable for their activities abroad. Koehler says it is common for parent companies to be charged under the FCPA for activities of its subsidiaries.
There is another possible wrinkle to any potential FCPA case against News Corp: it may be that the alleged payments to police—at least the five that Scotland Yard has fessed up to—were reported to have taken place in 2003, before the US incorporation of News Corp.
Amid last week’s speculation about possible FCPA investigations, another story—conspiratorial, but inevitable under the circumstances—emerged in British and America’s left-leaning blogosphere. The stories, with only coincidence to go on, linked a $1 million donation News Corp. made to the US Chamber of Commerce last summer to a campaign to amend the FCPA law the Chamber launched last fall. Just another big bribe—albeit not one to a foreign official—was the implication.
But there’s no proof of this and indeed, and until there is, caution would be warranted. Lots of big businesses give money to the Chamber of Commerce, the business lobby, for lots of things. And at least one of the Chamber’s proposed FCPA amendments, which has the endorsement of lawyers—Koehler and Cassin among them—and some bipartisan support, is widely favored.
It’s also hard to imagine News Corp could have seen this one coming.