New York – The U.S. Justice Department is preparing subpoenas as part of preliminary investigations into News Corp. relating to alleged foreign bribery and alleged hacking of voicemail of Sept. 11 victims, The Wall Street Journal reported in its Friday edition, citing a government official.
The issuance of such subpoenas, which would broadly seek relevant information from the company, requires approval by senior Justice Department leadership, which has not yet happened, the person said.
The issuance of subpoenas would represent an escalation of scrutiny on the New York-based media company. While the company has sought to isolate the legal problems in the U.K., it has been bracing for increased scrutiny from both the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), according to people familiar with the company's strategy.
The Justice Department has said it is looking into allegations that News Corp.'s now-defunct News of the World newspaper in the U.K. paid bribes to British police. It has been unclear whether the Justice Department or the SEC have begun formal probes.
The FBI separately has begun an inquiry into whether News Corp. employees tried to hack into voicemails of Sept. 11 victims, people familiar with the early-stage probe have said.
A person close to News Corp. said the preparation of subpoenas is "a fishing expedition with no evidence to support it."
Commenting on the FBI inquiry, another News Corp. spokeswoman said, "We have not seen any evidence to suggest there was any hacking of 9/11 victim's phones, nor has anybody corroborated what are clearly very serious allegations. The story arose when an unidentified person speculated to the Daily Mirror about whether it happened. That paper printed the anonymous speculation, which has since mushroomed in the broader media with no substantiation."