Wal-Mart Paid $24 Million In Bribes For Permits In Mexico
According to a report published Saturday by the New York Times, Wal-Mart Stores Inc.’s largest foreign subsidiary, Wal-Mart de Mexico, informed senior executives at Wal-Mart back in 2005 of an elaborate bribery campaign orchestrated in order to obtain permits, licenses, and inspections throughout the country of Mexico in a widely successful attempt to ensure market dominance.
The Mexican executive who blew the whistle on the whole ordeal was previously an attorney charged with obtaining construction permits for the company. The lawyer said in e-mails and follow-up conversations that Wal-Mart de Mexico paid bribes on numerous occasions to obtain construction permits during a period of time when they were rushing to rapidly expand across the nation.
Wal-Mart has grown to become Mexico’s largest private employer, employing 209,000 employees in Mexico. One in five Wal-Mart stores is now in Mexico.
The Times reported that it wasn’t until learning of its investigation that Wal-Mart decided that it was time to inform the United States Justice Department in December of 2011 that it had initiated an internal investigation into potential violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Under which law, it is illegal for United States corporations as well as their subsidiaries to bribe a foreign official.
The Bentonville, Arkansas, based company’s spokesman David Tovar issued a statement in which he said:
“If these allegations are true, it is not a reflection of who we are or what we stand for. We are deeply concerned by these allegations and are working aggressively to determine what happened.”
The NY Times investigation reportedly unveiled a long struggle at the highest levels of Wal-Mart. The report indicated that the corporation had discovered evidence of a $24 million paper trail which was suspected to be bribery payments to foreign officials in Mexico. At the time, the New York Times alleged that top Wal-Mart executives were more concerned with damage control than they were with exposing corruption within the corporation.