Blog: Wal-Mart's Mexican operations again in spotlight
Dean Best | 20 December 2012
Wal-Mart's operations in Mexico have again made headlines this week, with fresh allegations of bribery by the retailer's officials.
The US retail giant's business in the country have been under scrutiny since claims were made in April and, this week, The New York Times, which broke the initial allegations, published specific details.
In one instance, executives for Wal-Mart's Mexican business, the newspaper claimed, tried to bribe local planning officials to ease regulations prohibiting development near a region containing ancient pyramids.
The alleged bribe apparently paid off, The New York Times said, and a map outlining where developers could build was changed, allowing a Wal-Mart store to open in Christmas 2004.
Back in April, when the newspaper published its initial claims, it said Wal-Mart had learnt of the claims in 2006, including this particular alleged bribe, and launched an investigation. However, Wal-Mart closed the probe down.
The New York Times' fresh report, published on Tuesday, was part of what the newspaper said was its move to "pick up on where Wal-Mart's internal investigation was cut off".
The newspaper said it had travelled across Mexico, gathered documents on Wal-Mart's permits and interviewed government officials and the retailer's employees, including a former lawyer that had alerted the company in 2006.
"The Times's examination reveals that Wal-Mart de Mexico was not the reluctant victim of a corrupt culture that insisted on bribes as the cost of doing business. Nor did it pay bribes merely to speed up routine approvals. Rather, Wal-Mart de Mexico was an aggressive and creative corrupter, offering large payoffs to get what the law otherwise prohibited," the newspaper said.
Wal-Mart said the claims in the article formed part of an investigation it started "more than a year ago".
A spokesperson said: "At this point, the investigation is still ongoing and we have not yet reached final conclusions. A thorough and independent investigation will take time to complete. We wish we could say more but we will not jeopardise the integrity of the investigation."
He said Wal-Mart was "continuing to cooperate with the Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission on this matter".
The spokesperson added: "While the investigation is ongoing, we have not waited to act. Over the past 20 months, we have made significant improvements to our compliance programs around the world and have taken a number of specific, concrete actions with respect to our processes, procedures and people."
As global focus centres on childhood obesity and food-related illnesses, Australian retailer Woolworths Ltd has devised one way to get children to reach for a healthier snack over junk: give it to the...
That politicians are selective with the truth is pretty much a given. But it did make this pundit chuckle to hear UK Chancellor George Osborne describe United Biscuits as a "great British company"... ...
Researchers at US-based The NPD Group have expressed optimism in the prospects for the foodservice sector after analysing sales data in 11 markets this summer....
- ConAgra Foods: what could happen next? - analysis
- Why Mars rice plan not just crop-ticking exercise
- Greencore's food-to-go focus paying dividends
- What could be benefit of US approval of GM salmon?
- How Danone aims to meet its 2020 objectives
- Hovis plans cuts amid anxiety over UK bread demand
- Aryzta regional CEO steps down
- "Serious" suitors lined up for Chicken of The Sea
- Unilever sets 2030 carbon positive goal
- PepsiCo to expand Frito-Lay plant in US