In late November, Lachlan Murdoch was accused of being complicit in bribery of a political official in 1998, the Associated Press reported.
Murdoch is a News Corporation director and the eldest son of Rupert Murdoch..
Former Australian senator Bill O’Chee claims that Murdoch and Malcolm Colless — at the time a News Limited director of corporate development — “offered him favorable newspaper coverage and ‘a special relationship’ in return for voting against government legislation,” according to the AP.
Colless reportedly “offered [O’Chee] inducements” and Murdoch “was at the table during crucial parts of his discussion,” according to the AP. O’Chee said he didn’t vote the way he said News Limited wanted and then found it “almost impossible” for News Limited to report on him and he later failed to win reelection.
The accusations were published by Fairfax Media newspapers about “in a nine-page sworn statement” by O’Chee.
A spokesperson for Murdoch, John Connelly, said Murdoch “had no recollection of the lunch,” according to the Associated Press. According to the Wall Street Journal, Murdoch is quoted as saying “I have never been involved in lobbying Mr. O’Chee on any issue.”
The Wall Street Journal reported that the Australian Federal Police said it started investigating O’Chee’s claims Nov. 4.
The Sydney Morning Herald noted that O’Chee “has had a long and difficult relationship with the Murdoch press, which spent years reporting on his large parliamentary superannuation payout and an acrimonious split with his first wife.”
According to the Australian, Murdoch claims O’Chee’s allegations are “fabrication.” The Sydney Morning Herald reported that News Limited’s CEO, John Hartigan, issued this statement about the issue:
“The executive referred to in today’s report, Malcolm Colless, has confirmed that no improper conversation took place during the 1998 lunch with former Nationals senator, Mr O’Chee. “The two other guests at the lunch with Mr Colless and Mr O’Chee have said they did not hear any improper conversations.”
UPDATE: 12/12/2011 2:49 PM Added statement from Hartigan.