SEC and DOJ Probe Microsoft (MSFT) Over Foreign Bribery Claims

By on March 25, 2013

Microsoft is being investigated for claims of foreign bribery in China and other countries, the The Wall Street Journal reported.   Federal regulators are looking into whether Microsoft paid illegal bribes to foreign officials to win software contracts.  Specifically, the Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission are investigating claims from a former Microsoft employee in China.   The probe also involves Microsoft’s connections to resellers and consultants in Romania and Italy.

According to the Journal article, the accusations focus on claims that a Microsoft employee in China was informed to give kickbacks to Chinese government officials in exchange for contracts. Microsoft, with the assistance of an outside law firm, conducted an internal investigation in 2010 which found no evidence of wrongdoing.   Another aspect of the government probe deals with claims that consultants provided gifts and trips to Italian procurement officials in return for government business.

The investigation is being conducted under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, a 1977 law that forbids U.S. companies from paying bribes to foreign officials.