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Microsoft responds to Chinese software contract bribery claims

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Microsoft has responded to the WSJ's accusations that its business partners bribed Chinese officials in exchange for software contracts, by noting that it is reviewing the allegations and may find dirt.

The company published a statement on Tuesday in response to the WSJ's report that lawyers from both the Justice Department and the SEC are looking into allegations of bribery by parties on behalf of Microsoft. The regulators are also probing Microsoft's relationship with some resellers and consultants in Romania and Italy.

The probe is being conducted after allegations were made by a source speaking to the WSJ that an executive within Microsoft's China subsidiary instructed someone to offer kickbacks to Chinese officials in exchange for software contracts.

"We take all allegations brought to our attention seriously, and we cooperate fully in any government inquiries," Microsoft's deputy general counsel John Frank wrote.

Redmond is reviewing the allegations, Frank said, before stressing that: "It is also important to remember that it is not unusual for such reviews to find that an allegation was without merit... We take all allegations brought to our attention seriously, and we cooperate fully in any government inquiries."

Regulators are also reviewing Microsoft's relationships with customer loyalty consultants in Italy, who its sources allege were little more than "vehicles for lavishing gifts and trips on Italian procurement officials in exchange for government business". Another probe is being made into whether Microsoft resellers offered bribes to officials to gain a contract with Romania's Ministry of Communications. ®

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