US Government Investigating Microsoft Over Bribery Claims

Redmond once again finds itself dealing with the long arms of the law as news reports suggest that the company is being investigated by US officials for allegedly bribing government officials in three different countries.

Bribing, what for? Well, software contracts, of course.

Both the US Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SOC) are looking into claims made by a former Microsoft representative in China.

The informer tipped the state officials that the software giant offered kickbacks to state officials in China, Italy and Romania in return for software contracts estimated at tens of millions of dollars.

The US officials are still investing the matter and have not officially accused the software giant of bribery, meaning the investigation might end up with no charges for Redmond.

But the company has already said that it is ready to cooperate with the officials.

John Frank, the vice president and deputy general counsel at Microsoft said in a statement that it is no surprise the company is accused of illegal activity — many large companies around the globe are forced to deal with issue like these:

“We sometimes receive allegations about potential misconduct by employees or business partners, and we investigate them fully, regardless of the source. We also invest heavily in proactive training, compliance systems, monitoring and audits to ensure our business operations around the world meet the highest legal and ethical standards.”

We have more than 50 people whose primary role is investigating potential breaches of company policy, and an additional 120 people whose primary role is compliance. In addition, we sometimes retain outside law firms to conduct or assist with investigations. This is a reflection of the size and complexity of our business and the seriousness with which we take meeting our obligations.”

Frank did not comment on current investigation — but did emphasize that in certain cases some Microsoft individual employees (or even business partners) might violate policies and break the law.

Indication that Microsoft knows something we don’t? I’ll leave the decision to you.

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