Oracle faces an investigation by the Justice Department and other federal agencies for violating anti-bribery laws. So far, the software giant isn't commenting.
FBI agents and Justice Department prosecutors are apparently
investigating whether Oracle violated anti-bribery laws in its interactions
with certain African countries, reported The
Wall Street Journal
The WSJ cited anonymous sources for information about the
year-long investigation, which has focused on Oracle employees possibly making
improper payments related to closing software sales. The unnamed countries in
question are located in Western and Central Africa. Investigators from the
Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) are also apparently probing the
An Oracle spokesperson declined a request for comment from
Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977
makes it illegal for certain persons
and entities to "make payments to foreign government officials to assist in
obtaining or retaining business."
Every so often, a tech company will find itself in federal
cross-hairs for allegedly violating the act. Earlier this year, the SEC sued
IBM for allegedly bribing officials in South Korea and China from 1998 through
2009. IBM agreed to settle the action, reportedly by paying
millions in penalties
In 2010, Alcatel-Lucent
agreed to pay $137 million in fines
related to allegations that it paid
bribes in Costa Rica, Taiwan and Kenya.
News of the Oracle investigation leaked on a big day for the
Justice Department. On Aug. 31, the agency filed an antitrust lawsuit to
prevent the merger of AT&T and T-Mobile USA, a division of Deutsche
Telekom. The proposed $39 billion merger would have reduced the major carriers
in the United States to AT&T, Verizon and Sprint, something the latter had protested
vigorously in the media and other venues.
"The combination of AT&T and T-Mobile would result in
tens of millions of consumers all across the United States facing higher
prices, fewer choices and lower quality products for mobile wireless services,"
Deputy Attorney General James Cole wrote in a prepared statement.
Sprint's own statement on the matter seemed mildly elated:
"The DOJ today delivered a decisive victory for consumers, competition and our
country. By filing suit to block AT&T's proposed takeover of T-Mobile, the
DOJ has put consumers' interests first."
Overall, it seems as if Justice is investigating the tech
world on multiple fronts. In addition to dealing with a possible government
probe, Oracle faces substantial competition from the likes of IBM,
Hewlett-Packard, Salesforce and Microsoft.
Nicholas Kolakowski on Twitter