Panasonic under US bribery probe

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Panasonic Corp. has come under US scrutiny over allegations that a unit of the Japanese electronics giant paid bribes to ease business deals.

US regulators are probing Panasonic Avionics Corporation (PAC), a subsidiary based in Lake Forest, California, which manufactures in-flight entertainment and communications systems for airlines, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday.

Employees were asked to preserve documents “concerning any benefits or gifts provided, or the payment of anything of value, by Panasonic or PAC to any airline employee or government official,” in a January 20 retention notice.

A second notice in March 25 said PAC received a subpoena from government investigators last month, the Journal reports.

Both notices cited the 1977 Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which bars US companies and those listed on US stock exchanges from paying bribes to foreign government officials, according to the Journal.

A Panasonic spokeswoman for the Osaka, Japan-based parent company, declined to comment when reached by AFP.

Panasonic is struggling to recover from a record loss in the year ended March 2012. It projected a net loss of 765 billion yen for the fiscal year ending March 31, following a 772 billion-yen loss the previous year, according to Bloomberg.