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October 16, 2008 7:03 AM

AP: Microsoft unit Fast Search raided by Norwegian economic crime police

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

In May, reported on an accounting probe into Fast Search and Transfer, the enterprise search company Microsoft acquired in January. Today, a report out of Norway says authorities raided Fast's Oslo headquarters on "suspicion that it inflated revenue before it was bought up by Microsoft."

From The Associated Press:

"The police were acting on a complaint filed by the government Financial Supervisory Authority in April, which claimed that Fast broke basic accounting and documentation rules by inflating its reported revenue by 250 million kroner ($40 million).

"'We are conducting the search based on an order from the Oslo district court. We are going through documents and copying servers, and gathering information and evidence,' said Baard Thorsen of the economic crime police Oekokrim. ...

"According to the Norwegian state radio network NRK, the allegations include Fast reporting potential contracts as if they were already signed when presenting the company to potential investors and the stock market."

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, on a visit to Oslo last month, expressed confidence in Fast's accounts. "We reviewed the accounts before we bought Fast, and if we had seen something we didn't like we wouldn't have bought them. And now we own Fast and the accounts," Ballmer reportedly told Norwegian business newspaper Dagens Naeringsliv.

Update, 7:27 a.m.: A Microsoft spokesman just provided this statement on the raid:

"We can confirm that the Norwegian Police for Economic Crime this morning conducted inquiries at FAST's offices in Oslo. Microsoft and its subsidiary FAST Search and Transfer is cooperating fully with the police' inquiries. We are not in a position to make any further comments at this time."

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