by Max Brantley
Walmart has issued an updated response to allegations that the company covered up evidence of bribery in the course of building the retail chain's footprint in Mexico several years ago.
In short, the statement says the company works diligently to comply with the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and has heightened its vigilance since the New York Times broke the story. The company emphasizes, again, that the actions date back six years. That doesn't fully address, of course, the allegation that current high management officials had knowledge of events.
BENTONVILLE, Ark., April 24, 2012 — The following statement can be attributed to David Tovar, Vice President, Corporate Communications.
“Walmart has been working diligently on U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) compliance and has a rigorous process in place to quickly and aggressively manage issues like this when they arise.
“In the last year, we have taken a number of specific, concrete actions to investigate this matter and strengthen our global FCPA compliance processes and procedures around the world and in Bentonville and Mexico.
“In Bentonville, we have added a series of new escalation and review protocols to ensure FCPA investigations are managed consistently and independently. This ensures investigations are conducted rigorously and the findings are appropriately addressed.
“We have created a new Global FCPA Compliance Officer position. This position will have responsibility for compliance with the FCPA in every market around the world and will oversee five FCPA compliance directors based in the international markets.
“In Mexico, we have taken a number of actions to establish stronger FCPA compliance. We have implemented enhanced FCPA compliance measures including:
robust policies and procedures;
enhanced auditing procedures; and
issue escalation and remediation protocols.
“We established a dedicated FCPA compliance director in Mexico who reports directly to our new Global FCPA Compliance Officer in Bentonville.
“All of this is in addition to the worldwide review of our anti-corruption program that we initiated in March of 2011. We are taking a deep look at our policies and procedures in every country in which we operate. This includes developing and implementing recommendations for FCPA training, anti-corruption safeguards, and internal controls.
“We believe it’s also important to keep a few things in context:
The allegations in The New York Times story about the decisions made in Bentonville are more than six years old.
Six months ago, we launched an aggressive investigation under the auspices and supervision of the Audit Committee of the Board of Directors into the issues contained in the article. We are working quickly to determine what happened and are committed to getting to the bottom of this matter.
We are continuing to cooperate with federal law enforcement authorities.
“The Audit Committee of the board is overseeing the investigation and is comprised entirely of independent directors, who are assisted by outside legal advisors and forensic accountants. The Audit Committee is being briefed on this matter on a regular basis and they have instructed the Company to use whatever resources necessary to conduct an independent investigation.
“In March 2011, Walmart President and CEO Mike Duke directed the company to conduct a worldwide FCPA compliance review designed to ensure effective policies and procedures are in place in every country in which we operate. Mike is fully supportive of the independent investigation being conducted in Mexico with oversight by the Audit Committee, including ensuring that all resources necessary are available to pursue the independent investigation aggressively.
“We will not tolerate noncompliance with FCPA anywhere or at any level of the company.
“We are confident we are conducting a comprehensive investigation and if violations of our policies occurred, we will take appropriate action.”