The Justice Department is putting together subpoenas as part of its probe into allegations of criminal misconduct by News Corp., the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday night. The subpoenas are a sign that the phone hacking crisis surrounding the company is becoming a more serious problem in the U.S.
There are two American investigations currently under way. One is an FBI investigation into allegations that News of the World employees tried to bribe police officers and hack into the phones of 9/11 victims in the wake of the 2001 attacks. During his appearance before Parliament on Tuesday, News Corp. chief Rupert Murdoch forcefully pushed back against those allegations, which first appeared in the Daily Mirror. He said the company has seen "no evidence" that the Mirror's report is true.
The Justice Department is also examining whether or not News Corp. is guilty of violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices act, which bars a U.S. company from, as the act puts it, "[making] payments to foreign government officials to assist in obtaining or retaining business." The British Parliament has heard testimony that News Corp.' British division, News International, was engaged in "blindingly obvious" corrupt activity with British police officers. Former News International chief Rebekah Brooks has also admitted in the past that the company has paid officers for information.
The Journal reported that the subpoenas "would broadly seek relevant information from the company," and require the approval of senior Justice Department officials.
Congress is also ramping up its pressure on News Corp. Several Senators have called for Congressional hearings into the company's practices, as well as the conduct of Les Hinton, the former Dow Jones executive who was forced to resign over the hacking scandal.