WSJ today reports that US Federal regulators are investigating Microsoft and its business partners over bribery claims. It was reported that Microsoft with its business partners allegedly bribed foreign government officials in return for software contracts.
Lawyers from the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission are examining kickback 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, these people said.
Since the investigation is in a preliminary phase, so far the government hasn’t accused Microsoft or any of its business associates of wrongdoing. Microsoft is yet to respond this report and according to people familiar with these matters, such investigations takes place regularly over time on large companies like Microsoft dealing with governments.
Update: Microsoft responded to the allegations with a long blog post, you can read it here.
The matters raised in the Wall Street Journal are important, and it is appropriate that both Microsoft and the government review them. It is also important to remember that it is not unusual for such reviews to find that an allegation was without merit.
We also invest in proactive measures including annual training programs for every employee, regular internal audits and multiple levels of approval for contracting and expenditure.
In a company of our size, allegations of this nature will be made from time to time. It is also possible there will sometimes be individual employees or business partners who violate our policies and break the law. In a community of 98,000 people and 640,000 partners, it isn’t possible to say there will never be wrongdoing. Our responsibility is to take steps to train our employees, and to build systems to prevent and detect violations, and when we receive allegations, to investigate them fully and take appropriate action. We take that responsibility seriously.