SEATTLE — Federal authorities are examining Microsoft’s involvement with companies and individuals that allegedly paid bribes to overseas government officials in exchange for business.
The Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission have both opened preliminary investigations into the bribery allegations involving Microsoft in China, Italy, and Romania, according to a person briefed on the probe, who declined to be named because the software company considers the inquiry a confidential legal matter.
Microsoft’s practices in those countries are being looked at for potential violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, a federal law that prohibits US companies from making illegal payments to government officials and others overseas to further their business interests.
In a blog post Tuesday afternoon, John Frank, a vice president and deputy general counsel of Microsoft, said the company couldn’t comment about ongoing inquiries.
The Wall Street Journal first reported news of the investigations on its website on Tuesday.
The allegations in China were first shared with US officials last year by an unnamed whistle-blower, who had worked with Microsoft in the country, according to the person briefed on the probe.
The US agencies are also looking at Microsoft’s relationship with outsiders in Romania and Italy, including software resellers and consultants, who allegedly bribed government officials to secure contracts for government business, this person said.