Panasonic unit under U.S. bribery investigation, WSJ reports

Panasonic president and chief executive Kazuhiro Tsuga gives Panasonic president and chief executive Kazuhiro Tsuga gives the keynote address Tuesday at the 2013 International Consumer Electronics Show at the Venetian casino in Las Vegas. Later Tsuga told reporters that his company is considering closing some divisions as it retools for the new electronics market. (Jan. 8, 2013) Photo Credit: Getty Images

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A unit of Japan's Panasonic Corp is under investigation by U.S. authorities looking at whether the company paid bribes overseas to airline employees or government officials to help land business, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Citing company documents, the Journal said Panasonic Avionics had received a subpoena looking for communications between Panasonic Avionics, consultants and others. The subpoena also asked for documents related to payments to the airline employees and government officials, the newspaper said.

The Panasonic unit, which is headquartered in Lake Forest, California, makes in-flight entertainment and communications systems.

According to the Journal, notices were sent to executives and employees in Asia, Europe and the Middle East.

The Journal said it was not clear which U.S. agency is investigating the unit. But the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act is enforced by the U.S.

Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission.

A Panasonic Avionics spokesman told Reuters that the company does not comment on government investigations.

The SEC and the Justice Department could not immediately be reached for comment.

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