Walmart bribery probe includes 5 countries

2012-06-13 07:42

New York – Lawyers for Walmart have identified Brazil, India, China and South Africa along with Mexico as areas having the biggest risk for corruption, according to a letter from two congressmen who are doing their own investigation into the allegations of bribery in its Mexico operations.

The letter, dated Monday, shed light on a May 21 briefing with outside lawyers from Walmart, who said they had been retained to do a global anti-corruption compliance review of its operations in 2011.

The attorneys from the law firms Greenberg Traurig and Kind Gump said the review focused on Brazil, China and Mexico because they represent the highest corruption risk.

Based on the review, they recommended that Walmart also evaluate its operations in India and South Africa

In the letter to Walmart chief executive Mike Duke, Democratic congressmen Elijah Cummings of Maryland and Henry Waxman of California wrote that the world’s largest retailer hadn’t provided any documents regarding the potential violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which forbids US companies from bribing foreign officials.

The two lawmakers also said Walmart hadn’t allowed them to interview any of its employees.

“Walmart’s actions to date significantly inhibit our ability to investigate these allegations,” stated the letter.

The congressmen asked that information be furnished by June 26. They also wanted details of the lawyers’ recommendations.

“We are cooperating with the ongoing federal investigations, and as appropriate, will also continue to assist members of Congress and their staffs in understanding our efforts to address Foreign Corrupt Practices Act issues,” said Walmart spokesperson Dave Tovar.

“We have already provided committee staff with one briefing and have another briefing scheduled tomorrow.”

The New York Times reported in late April that Walmart’s Mexican unit allegedly paid millions of dollars in bribes to speed building permits and gain other favours. The Times said executives didn’t notify authorities even after Walmart found evidence of the scheme.

Walmart is facing at least a dozen “derivative” lawsuits, meant to change the way a company is run.

The plaintiffs are also seeking to recover any fines or other financial damages that Walmart faces as a result of the violations and have the money be awarded to the company.

Walmart, which is based in Bentonville, Arkansas, has maintained that it’s committed to a full and independent investigation, but it is in the early stages of the probe.

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