According to a report from the Wall Street Journal, Microsoft is being investigated by the US government for possible bribery and corruption in Hungary. The software giant apparently sold some of its office programs at cheaper rates to middleman companies but then charged the Hungarian government higher rates for the same (via Engadget.)
The sales reportedly happened between 2013 and 2014, and the US Securities and Exchange Commission and the Justice Department are both currently investigating the case. The government organizations want to see if Microsoft used the difference in pricing between the middleman companies and the Hungarian government as kickbacks, which is illegal under the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
Wall Street Journal also reports that Microsoft partners in five other countries also bribed government buyers, but it is not clear if the US is investigating those cases as well. A Microsoft spokesperson issued a statement:
“As soon as we became aware in 2014 of potential wrongdoing in our Hungarian subsidiary, we moved quickly to pursue a detailed investigation and hold people accountable…We fired four employees and terminated our business with four partners, and we’ve been defending ourselves against legal claims they raised as a result.”
Microsoft previously faced similar charges back in 2013, then for kickbacks in China. The US Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission did not issue statements about the investigation.Further reading: Microsoft