U.S. Panasonic unit probed over bribes

Kyodo

U.S. authorities are investigating whether a U.S. subsidiary of electronics giant Panasonic Corp. engaged in bribery to win foreign orders, the online edition of The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday.

California-based Panasonic Avionics Corp., a maker of in-flight entertainment and communications systems for airlines, is apparently being investigated and is suspected of paying bribes to foreign government officials, the WSJ reported.

It said the legal department of PAC instructed certain executives and employees on Jan. 20 to preserve documents “concerning any benefits or gifts provided, or the payments of anything of value, by Panasonic or PAC to any airline employee or government officials.”

A second notice dated March 25 said Panasonic had received a subpoena from government investigators earlier in the month, seeking communications between PAC and a number of its consultants and middlemen, as well as documents related to payments to those third parties, the WSJ said. Panasonic declined to comment.