There have been some shareholder lawsuits, and a reported FBI investigation, but the announcement today that the attorney for U.K. phone hacking victims had teamed up with a U.S. power lawyer Norman Siegel to start building a case against News Corporation is the strongest indicator yet that the company faces some serious legal trouble stateside. Siegel, who represents 20 families of 9/11 victims, said on Friday he would start taking depositions from News Corp. directors on allegations that News of the World reporters may have bribed police, according to The Guardian.
He says he intends to assess whether he can launch a class action against News Corp using American foreign corruption laws, which make it illegal for US companies to pay bribes to government officials abroad.
The announcement of the civil action follows news this week that the U.S. Department of Justice sent News Corp. a letter seeking information on alleged violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. According to Businessweek, "the inquiry advances an existing U.S. probe that is reviewing claims that victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks had their phones hacked by News Corp. employees." Siegel's involvement points to a class action lawsuit in the works by alleged victims of the hacking here in the United States. After News Corp.'s sister company, News International, agreed to a multimillion dollar payout in a phone hacking case on Monday, it seems corporate head Rupert Murdoch may need to start filling the settlement fund on both sides of the Atlantic.