The Wall Street Journal was doing a bang up job reporting on China, reporting on wealth and corruption of some of China’s leaders. Suddenly someone drops a bribery allegation to the DOJ. Hmm…..
The Justice Department last year opened an investigation into allegations that employees at The Wall Street Journal’s China news bureau bribed Chinese officials for information for news articles.
A search by the Journal’s parent company found no evidence to support the claim, according to government and corporate officials familiar with the case.
The U.S. government, meanwhile, is nearing the end of a broader investigation of the Journal’s owner News Corp stemming from allegations of phone hacking and bribery at U.K. tabloids, among other issues, according to people familiar with the case.
During the course of that broader probe, the Justice Department approached News Corp.’s outside counsel in early 2012 and said it had received information from a person it described as a whistleblower who claimed one or more Journal employees had provided gifts to Chinese government officials in exchange for information, according to people familiar with the case.
News Corp. and the Journal don’t know the identity of the informant, company officials say, and government officials wouldn’t discuss such details. It isn’t clear whether the person worked inside the Journal and whether the informant provided names of alleged bribers.
According to U.S. and corporate officials, News Corp. has told the Justice Department that some company officials suspect the informant was an agent of the Chinese government, seeking to disrupt and possibly retaliate against the Journal for its reporting on China’s leadership. The company officials came to that view after finding no evidence of the alleged bribery and because of the timing and nature of the accusations, company officials say. It isn’t clear what, if any, evidence the company officials have for that claim, which reporters for this article couldn’t independently verify.