Monday, February 27, 2012

"Illegal payments" rife at Murdoch's Sun according to Police

(Reuters) - Journalists at Britain's Sun newspaper paid large sums of cash to corrupt public officials, aware the practice was criminal, an inquiry into press ethics heard Monday - revelations that could prove damaging to Rupert Murdoch's media empire.

The police officer heading three criminal inquires centered on Murdoch's British newspaper arm, News International, said the Sun had operated a "culture ... of illegal payments."

"The current assessment is that it reveals a network of corrupted officials," Deputy Assistant Commissioner Sue Akers told the inquiry headed by senior judge, Justice Brian Leveson.

"There appears to have been a culture at the Sun of illegal payments, and systems have been created to facilitate those payments whilst hiding the identity of officials receiving the money."

The disclosure could damage Murdoch's News Corp if it gives ammunition to the FBI and other American government agencies that have stepped up their hunt for signs of illegality at the U.S.-based company.

A case brought under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act could, if successful, bring fines of millions of dollars and criminal charges against individuals. Read More