Wal-Mart In Bribery Probe
An extensive investigation is taking place, says Wal-Mart into compliance with federal law that prohibits companies based in the U.S. to bribe officials of foreign countries. Wal-Mart released the statement after an article in the New York Times was published Saturday online that alleged that executives of the huge retailer concealed a bribery scheme, involving its division in Mexico, in its Bentonville, Arkansas headquarters.
The story claims that Wal-Mart headquarter executives including H. Lee Scott the former CEO, thought more about damage control than correcting what happened. The allegations stem from an alleged 2005 email that an executive in the company’s Mexico division sent to a senior lawyer for the company. The emailed is said to have detailed how the company paid over $24 million in bribe money to receive permits for construction across Mexico.
Allegedly, ex Wal-Mart executive Sergio Cicero Zapata was interviewed for 15 hours for the online article by the Times. He said he personally helped in many of the payoffs, which won zoning approvals and made bureaucratic hurdles easier to get past.
The article alleges that Wal-Mart acted swiftly on the information and immediately conducted an in-house investigation but then concealed it from Mexican and U.S. authorities.
David Tovar, a vice president for corporate communications from Wal-Mart headquarters, said the company was working diligently on the investigation and that the company had already had meetings with the Justice Department and the SEC and in a December regulatory filing, disclosed the investigation to all its shareholders.
Wal-Mart has 2099 stores across Mexico and has close to 190,000 employees in the country. Included in the store count are 126 Sam’s Clubs and 213 Supercenters.