Rupert Murdoch's British newspaper division could face corporate charges in relation to the Metropolitan police's phone-hacking investigation, it has been claimed in a report in the Independent.
Two "very senior figures" at News International, now renamed News UK, have been interviewed in relation to the corporate aspect of the investigation, which is also examining allegations of bribery of public officials, it has emerged.
The allegations indicate that a new line of inquiry is opening into the Murdoch empire, which has potentially serious consequences for News UK, which owns the Sun and the Times. In an attempt at damage limitation following the scandal, News Corp was separated from News UK.
Such an inquiry would mirror events in America, where the department of justice and the FBI are investigating Murdoch's US parent company, News Corp, under the Foreign and Corrupt Practices Act, which can impose severe penalties on companies that bribe foreign officials.
Labour MP Chris Bryant, one of the most vocal critics of News International when phone hacking was uncovered, said the Met had told him they were "actively investigating corporate charges and that they were in correspondence with the American authorities, the FBI".
Bryant said the law in the UK was now as tough as in the US, due to the enactment of the Bribery Act 2010: "Under the Bribery act, the body corporate can have charges laid against it if its corporate governance was so reckless as to be negligent."
The old News Corporation has been broken up into two entities - the entertainment division (21st Century Fox) and the newspaper/publishing/education division (which includes Klein's Amplify.)
Any legal fees, fines and such that come in a U.S. investigation will come out of the newspaper/publishing/education division, since that was where all the hacking and bribery activity occurred.
More than 125 people have been arrested in connection with the various News Corporation hacking/bribery/corruption cases, with more than 40 facing criminal charges.
Rupert Murdoch doesn't seem to be all that concerned with any of this - he just purchased a 5% stake in Vice.
Nonetheless, the News Corporation bribery/hacking/corruption cases bear watching.