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Former Fox News CFO Offered Immunity to Testify in Payments Inquiry (Report)

The former chief financial officer of Fox News Channel, Mark Kranz, is said to have been offered immunity from prosecution by U.S. government attorneys looking into payments by the network and its parent, 21st Century Fox, to women who claimed to be harassed by Roger Ailes, the cable-news outlet’s former chief and leader, according to a report in The Financial Times.

Citing people briefed on the case, the FT said Kranz and at least one other former executive have been offered immunity from prosecution by federal prosecutors looking into whether the media giant properly disclosed or accounted for financial settlements made to former Fox News employees who made claims of harassment.  The FT reported Kranz is among “multiple” people who have been subpoenaed in the matter, which first came to light in February at a New York State Supreme Court hearing involving Andrea Tantaros, who has sued Fox News over what she alleged was retaliation in response to claims of sexual harassment. Ailes was ousted from the network he guided last year after former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson filed a suit alleging the executive harassed her, prompting the parent company to open an internal investigation into the matter. Ailes has denied the charges.

A spokesperson for 21st Century Fox declined to comment on the matter. The company in February issued a statement noting that it had not received a subpoena from the U.S. Attorney’s office, but that  it had “been in communication with the U.S. attorney’s office for months.” The company also said it “will continue to cooperate on all inquiries with any interested authorities.”

Since Ailes’ departure, a number of settlements with former Fox News employees have been disclosed. Carlson agreed to a settlement last year believed to total as much as $20 million. Laurie Luhn, a former booker and event planner at Fox, is believed to have received a settlement coming to as much as $3 million after alleging a long pattern of harassment by Ailes, which he denied. A settlement between Fox News and former contributor Tamara Holder was revealed earlier this month. Holder had levied sexual-harassment allegations against Francisco Cortes, a vice president of Fox News Latino, in October. The legal matter involving Tantaros, a one-time dayside anchor and contributor, remains extant, with Tantaros’ attorney trying to steer the imbroglio away from arbitration.

Since Ailes’ departure, a number of senior executives that helped run Fox News during his tenure have departed. Brigette Boyle and Nikole King, the senior vice president of recruitment for Fox News and Fox Business, and the senior vice president of business development and mobile for Fox News, respectively, departed in August. Tim Carry, who had been involved in negotiating distribution deals for both Fox News and Fox Business since their launches, announced his departure in November. Paul Rittenberg, who led ad sales for Fox News and Fox Business, announced his departure in February.

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