Unless Fox News has some more payoff money hiding under the cushions, this could be trouble.
The FT reports that the former chief financial officer of Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News Channel has been offered immunity from prosecution by government lawyers investigating payments to women allegedly harassed by Roger Ailes, the network’s former chairman, according to people briefed on the case.
Mark Kranz was CFO of Fox News from 2004 until last year, leaving the channel shortly after Ailes was pushed out by its parent company, 21st Century Fox.
Ailes was fired following an internal investigation into claims that he had sexually harassed Gretchen Carlson, a former presenter.
During that investigation several other female employees, including the network’s former star Megyn Kelly, came forward with similar allegations.
The full scope of the government probe is unclear but authorities are looking into whether Fox News allegedly misled investors by concealing multiple financial settlements with former employees.
One of them was Laurie Luhn, a former Fox News guest booker, who revealed last year that she had received a $3.1m settlement in 2011 related to allegations that Mr Ailes had sexually harassed her.
Kranz was closely involved in preparing the company’s financial statements, so his co-operation will be key for prosecutors trying to understand how the Luhn payment and other alleged settlements were accounted for.
The Luhn payment was not disclosed to 21st Century Fox investors, and federal prosecutors have offered Kranz and at least one other former executive immunity from prosecution in return for their co-operation, people briefed on the case said.
Kranz did not respond to calls seeking comment. His lawyer declined to comment.