Walmart’s ongoing investigation into bribery allegations was thrust into the spotlight again this week after the New York Times published results of its own investigation.
The New York Times lengthy, detailed and thoroughly sourced article detailed how Walmart employees in Mexico used an elaborate series of payments to accelerate construction of a controversial store in Mexico City. The store in question was highly controversial at the time of its construction due to a location near ancient pyramids in Mexico City. According to the New York Times, "Wal-Mart de Mexico was an aggressive and creative corrupter, offering large payoffs to get what the law otherwise prohibited."
The article was a follow-up to an equally extensive piece that appeared in late April that asserted Walmart executives were aware of corruption in Mexico but failed to act. Walmart disputed that assertion at the time and maintained it had previously disclosed its own investigation in documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission in late 2011, well before the original New York Times article appeared April 22.
The most recent article prompted a swift response from Walmart in which it acknowledged the ongoing investigation and expressed regret that it couldn’t share more details.
"The allegations contained in the New York Times article surrounding events in 2003-2004 involving the permitting and licensing process for a Walmart de Mexico store in Teotihuacan, Mexico, have been part of the company’s ongoing investigation of potential violations of the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act we began more than a year ago," Walmart spokesman David Tovar said in a statement released Monday night. He noted that the investigation is being overseen by an audit committee of the board that is composed entirely of independent directors and that Walmart is cooperating with the Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission. "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 jeopardize the integrity of the investigation."
Walmart maintains that it is committed to a strong and effective global anti-corruption program and detailed how over the course of the past 20 months it has established several new compliance positions around the world, di