Microsoft red-faced over Russian scandal -

Microsoft is embarrassed that its anti-piracy agents in Russia have been linked to  helping corrupt law-enforcement officials to extort money from the targets of piracy inquiries.

An international anti-corruption group, Transparency International, and a major Russian human rights groups, Memorial, made the claim over the weekend.

Allegedly corrupt coppers backed by Redmond lawyers would swoop on a company and steal their computers - claiming that they had found pirated copies of Microsoft software.

They would then demand bribes from the company to get their hardware back.

Transparency International said that Redmond should choose its lawyers with a bit more care.

When asked by the New York Times about the accusations, Microsoft said it believed that people who had no legal authority to represent Microsoft were fraudulently using the company's name to extort money.  Although that is not what the human rights outfits have claimed.

Kevin Kutz, director of public affairs said that Microsoft had been talking to the various human rights groups in Russia and come up with a cunning plan to deal with the problem.

"We have to protect our products from piracy," Kutz said "But we also have a commitment to respect fundamental human rights."

Microsoft has been in discussions with human rights advocacy groups on steps it can take in Russia.

It said that it would publish a list of law firms that were supposed to represent it in Putin's Russia so a company could see if the people carrying the writ were frauds.

It added that the lawyers that it retained "are accountable to us, and if their actions do not comport with professional ethics, anticorruption laws, or Microsoft policies, we terminate our relationship with them."

However when fake Redmond writs are accompanied by a bent copper with a gun it is still jolly difficult to tell them to go forth and multiply.