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Microsoft Says Bribery Investigation Includes Russia

Microsoft Corp., the world’s largest software maker, said it’s cooperating with federal authorities investigating possible illegal activity by employees and business partners in Russia and Pakistan.

The company takes every allegation seriously and will cooperate fully with any government inquiries, John Frank, Microsoft’s deputy general counsel, wrote in a blog posting yesterday. Mark Murray, a spokesman for Microsoft, confirmed that the software maker’s activities in Russia and Pakistan are now part of an investigation.

The statement followed a Wall Street Journal report that federal regulators are extending their examination of the company’s relations with business partners that allegedly bribed foreign officials for contracts. The investigation had earlier looked into allegations made by a former Microsoft representative in China, and the company’s relationships with resellers and consultants in Romania and Italy, the newspaper said.

John Nester, a spokesman for the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, and Michael Passman, a Justice Department spokesman, didn’t immediately return e-mails seeking comment on the probe.

Microsoft, based in Redmond, Washington, said it employs more than 50 people to investigate potential breaches of company policy, as well as 120 more people to make sure the software maker complies with local laws and regulations.

Microsoft said in March that that lawyers from the Justice Department and the SEC were examining allegations that Microsoft partners bribed foreign government representatives in exchange for software contracts, following a Wall Street Journal report.

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