Wall Street Journal Accused of Bribery in China

The Wall Street Journal has revealed allegations that its staff bribed Chinese officials to obtain information related to Bo Xilai’s former fiefdom of Chongqing. Officials at the newspaper’s parent company News Corp. say its own investigation found no evidence of wrongdoing, and claim that the charges may have been fabricated as a weapon against the Journal. The accusations surfaced amid a U.S. government investigation of misconduct by News Corp. employees in the United Kingdom. From Devlin Barrett and Evan Perez:

During the course of that broader probe, the Justice Department approached News Corp.’s outside counsel in early 2012 and said it had received information from a person it described as a whistleblower who claimed one or more Journal employees had provided gifts to Chinese government officials in exchange for information, according to people familiar with the case.

[…] According to U.S. and corporate officials, News Corp. has told the Justice Department that some company officials suspect the informant was an agent of the Chinese government, seeking to disrupt and possibly retaliate against the Journal for its reporting on China’s leadership. The company officials came to that view after finding no evidence of the alleged bribery and because of the timing and nature of the accusations, company officials say. It isn’t clear what, if any, evidence the company officials have for that claim, which reporters for this article couldn’t independently verify.

[…] The Chinese bribery allegations against the Journal arose around the time that U.S. and Dow Jones officials believed Chinese hackers were targeting Dow Jones’s computer systems, according to people familiar with the matter. That is one reason company officials say they suspected the informant’s actions were part of a broader attack on the paper.

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