The News Corp. phone-hacking scandal has yielded a heap of evidence that the company’s British tabloids have bribed law-enforcement officers in pursuit of scoops. Critics seized on the revelations to prod U.S. authorities to investigate News Corp., a New York-based outfit, under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), a law prohibiting the greasing of overseas palms by U.S. companies.
And just like that, the FCPA, a one-time wonky backwater of a statute, moved closer to a prime-time public law. Yet Rupert Murdoch and his lieutenants don’t get full credit for the FCPA’s coming-out party.
A partial nod must go to the soap opera The Young and the Restless, whose character Victoria Newman was arrested on her wedding day for allegedly bribing a foreign dignitary. Television and Murdoch and ’round-the-clock FCPA conjecture — it’s a welcome publicity storm for the FCPA bar. “It’s a new industry brought into the spotlight,” says Kate Atkinson, a partner at D.C.-based law firm Miller & Chevalier. “Fifteen or 20 years ago, it was a medieval guild in terms of the people who worked in [FCPA] and thought about it.”