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Microsoft, Partners Probed Over Bribery Claims 137

c0lo writes "U.S. federal authorities are examining Microsoft's involvement with companies and individuals that allegedly paid bribes to overseas government officials in exchange for business. The United States 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. The China allegations were first shared with United States officials last year by an unnamed whistle-blower who had worked with Microsoft in the country, according to the person briefed on the inquiry. The whistle-blower said that a Microsoft official in China directed the whistle-blower to pay bribes to government officials to win business deals. U.S. government investigators are also reviewing whether Microsoft had a role in allegations that resellers offered bribes to secure software deals with Romania's Ministry of Communications. In Italy, Microsoft's dealings with consultants that specialize in customer-loyalty programs are under scrutiny, with allegations that Microsoft's Italian unit used such consultants as vehicles for lavishing gifts and trips on Italian procurement officials in exchange for government business. In a blog post Tuesday afternoon, John Frank, a vice president and deputy general counsel at Microsoft, said the company could not comment about continuing investigations. Mr. Frank said it was not uncommon for such government reviews to find that the claims were without merit. Somehow, given the way OOXML became a standard, it wouldn't surprise me if it were an actual fire that caused this smoke."
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Microsoft, Partners Probed Over Bribery Claims

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  • by mc6809e ( 214243 ) on Wednesday March 20, 2013 @03:06PM (#43226445)

    I don't know who this "whistle blower" was (likely a government official who they didn't bribe well enough), but EVERY company that does business in China bribes. It's more than a way of life there, it's absolutely ubiquitous.

    It's not just China, either.

    And calling this "bribery" isn't always correct. "Extortion" is probably just as a appropriate at times.

    Western multinationals can't do business in most parts of the world (and even US companies in parts of Europe) without some local official demanding money up front to make sure important documents like applications for permits don't "go missing", or that so-and-so's brother on some commission can be "advised" to make the right decision -- the implication being that you'll be held up if you don't pay up.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 20, 2013 @03:06PM (#43226447)

    FYI: Microsoft Romania has an official budget line for "greasing decision factors" and it's so widely known that they are "very generous" that everyone expects them to bribe.

    Posting as AC, from Romania :-)

  • by walterbyrd ( 182728 ) on Wednesday March 20, 2013 @03:17PM (#43226567)

    August 31, 2007

    Sweden's OOXML vote declared invalidgust 31, 2007

    The Swedish Standards Institute has declared its recent vote in favor of Microsoft's Office Open XML format invalid. It means that Sweden will probably abstain from an important upcoming international vote on whether to make the format a standard.

    The reason given by SIS was not the controversial circumstances surrounding the vote, in which
    Microsoft was found to have offered companies "incentives" if they voted in favor of OOXML. Instead, SIS cited a technicality, saying proper procedures had not been followed.

  • by YA_Python_dev ( 885173 ) on Wednesday March 20, 2013 @03:21PM (#43226607) Journal

    In Italy, like the rest of the EU, public money must usually be spent through transparent public contracts awarded to the lowest bidder that satisfies all requirements.

    To make sure that Linux or LibreOffice don't cause problems the trick is very simple: they put e.g. "Windows 7" or "Microsoft Office 2010" in the requirements and pretend to have open competitive bids by comparing offers from different resellers for Microsoft software.

    Another common trick is to let the situation degenerate until it becomes an emergency. At that point the law allows contracts to be awarded directly to a company arbitrarly chosen by a politician. This explains "emergencies" that last decades like the garbages crisis in Naples [].

A committee takes root and grows, it flowers, wilts and dies, scattering the seed from which other committees will bloom. -- Parkinson