Washington: US authorities are probing tech firm Microsoft's ties with business partners that allegedly bribed foreign government officials in return for software contracts, it has emerged.
People familiar with the matter said that lawyers from the US Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission are examining allegations made by a former Microsoft representative in China, as well as the company's relationship with certain resellers and consultants in Romania and Italy.
The probe is being conducted under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act that prohibits US companies and companies that trade on US stock exchanges from paying bribes to foreign officials.
People close to the matter said that the China allegations come from an anonymous tipster who passed them on to US investigators in 2012, the Wall Street Journal reports.
The tipster, who worked to land potential new business, alleged that an executive of Microsoft's China subsidiary instructed the tipster to offer kickbacks to Chinese officials in return for signing off on software contracts, sources said
The tipster, whose contract ended in 2008, was also involved in a labor dispute with Microsoft in China, they added.
According to the paper, the probe is in a preliminary phase, and the government hasn't accused Microsoft or any of its business associates of wrongdoing. Such investigations can end with no charges being filed.
First Published: Wednesday, March 20, 2013, 12:05