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March 20, 2013

US regulators investigate Microsoft and partners over foreign bribery claims

The US Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission are involved in the probe.

By CBR Staff Writer

US federal regulators have launched an investigation into allegations that business partners of Microsoft in three countries bribed foreign officials to help increase sales of the company’s software.

The US Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission are probing the allegation under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

The Wall Street Journal reported that the investigation is focused on allegations against Microsoft in China, Italy and Romania.

According to the news agency, the China allegations come from an anonymous tipster who passed the information to US investigators in 2012.

However the news agency reported that the investigation, conducted by an outside law company, found no evidence of wrongdoing.

The Wall Street Journal also reported that federal officials are also investigating Microsoft’s relationship with certain resellers and consultants in Romania and Italy.

Microsoft vice president & deputy general counsel John Frank said the US government is reviewing allegations that the company’s business partners in three countries may have engaged in illegal activity, and if they did, whether Microsoft played any role in these alleged incidents.

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"We take all allegations brought to our attention seriously, and we cooperate fully in any government inquiries," Frank said.

"Like other large companies with operations around the world, we sometimes receive allegations about potential misconduct by employees or business partners, and we investigate them fully, regardless of the source."

Microsoft operates in 112 countries and employs about 98,000 people with 640,000 business partners.

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