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OSLO (Reuters) - Norwegian police' economic crimes unit said it had charged Microsoft-owned search technology firm Fast Search & Transfer with accounting fraud on Thursday.


"We are raiding Fast's offices now to secure evidence," police attorney Baard Thorsen said. "The charge is for accounting fraud."


Fast was acquired by Microsoft for $1.2 billion in February.


"The charge regards accounts from before Microsoft came in," Thorsen said. "We think Fast recognized revenues that there is no basis for." Fast was not immediately available for comment.


Norway's financial watchdog said in May it had reported possible violation of accounting rules by Fast to the economic crimes unit.


In June the watchdog said it would also probe the auditor of Fast, Deloitte & Touche, for suspected irregularities with accounts.


Daily Dagens Naeringsliv said that according to a Microsoft statement it had received, Fast accounts for 2006 and 2007 had been corrected to reflect about $6 million in irregular payments.


Fast was the world's second largest provider of enterprise search software that allows companies comb internal corporate documents, data and other information, a market also targeted by Google.


Before Microsoft's buyout, Fast stock had tumbled after the company said in mid 2007 it would no longer recognize revenues from memorandums of understanding, and instead book revenue only from final deals.


The police and Norwegian Ministry of Justice are among Fast's customers in Norway.


(Richard Solem)


(c) Reuters 2008. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of Reuters content, including by caching, framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Reuters. Reuters and the Reuters sphere logo are registered trademarks and trademarks of the Reuters group of companies around the world.




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