The United States Department of Justice has determined that it will not prosecute either News Corp, or its sister company 21st Century Fox on charges of phone hacking and bribery of public officials, which stemmed from the 2011 scandal involving News of the World in the United Kingdom.
On Monday, News Corp released a regulatory filing regarding the news:
“News Corporation was notified by the United States Department of Justice that it has completed its investigation of voicemail interception and payments to public officials in London and is declining to prosecute the company or 21st Century Fox.”
RT reported that News Corp faced a possible investigation under the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which “makes it illegal for US companies to bribe officials in foreign countries.”
According to The Guardian, “it is understood there has been no background settlement with the Department of Justice in order to avoid a full-blown investigation,” which contradicts previous speculation that the company was “looking at a possible payment of over $850m.”
RT reported that News Corp will not be face a full U.S. investigation due to the fact that there was a “lack of apparent evidence that the media company hacked phones of individuals who were inside the United States.”
Rupert Murdoch, the owner of both News Corp and 21st Century Fox, also owned the UK newspaper News of the World, before closing it in 2011.
The Guardian noted that Murdoch closed the paper after it was revealed that its reporters “had hacked into the voicemails of Milly Dowler, a missing schoolgirl who had been murdered.”
According to the Daily Mail, it was during this scandal that Murdoch split his media empire into two entities, “News Corp focusing on newspapers and publishing, and 21st Century Fox specializing in TV and film.”
Journalists from the paper have since been investigated for hacking the cellphones of various celebrities, and for bribing public officials. Some relatives of victims from the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks also claimed that their phones had been hacked.
Norman Siegel, the U.S. attorney for the group, told The Guardian that Monday’s announcement came as a shock to his clients.
“The attorney general promised my clients that before the department published any statement, they would meet with us, and explain what their inquiry had found and what their conclusions were,” said Siegel. “So this is very disappointing that they did not fulfill their promise.”