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."
The UK's Serious Fraud Office has launched an investigation into the GBP263m (US$424.6m) black hole in Tesco's accounts, the retailer confirmed today (29 October)....
A mobile app that claims to be the "most comprehensive food-rating database available" to US consumers has raised the hackles of the country's food manufacturers....
Just weeks after announcing a purchasing tie-up in France with local rival Systeme U, Auchan has outlined an international agreement with Germany's Metro Group....
Tesco has reported a massive 92% drop in first half profits as the accounting fiasco continues to widen....
- On the money: Spreads, ice cream top Unilever woes
- Why data is key to shopper satisfaction
- Short-termism decides Chiquita's future
- Growth question hangs over refocused Premier
- Sustainability Watch: Roberto Ciati, Barilla
- Glanbia chairman to step down
- General Mills to launch "Ancient Grains" Cheerios
- Hershey lowers FY sales, earnings forecasts
- Mondelez evaluating Oreo production in Morocco
- Kerry rebrands Wall's microwave sausages