Major new investigative piece by the New York Times on bribes paid in Mexico to aid Walmart expansion.
It reveals a pattern of payments last decade to clear the way for store development and — worse — knowledge of Walmart officials about what had occurred that it failed to report to authorities or fully investigate on its own.
Walmart is ready with statement that says allegations are among those under review in a company internal probe.
BENTONVILLE, Ark., Dec. 17, 2012 — The following statement can be attributed to David Tovar, Vice President, Corporate Communications.
“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.
“The Audit Committee of the board, comprised entirely of independent directors, is overseeing the investigation.
“We are also continuing to cooperate with the Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission on this matter.
“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.
“We are committed to having a strong and effective global anti-corruption program everywhere we operate and taking appropriate action for any instance of non-compliance.
“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.
“Over the past several months we have:
Established several new compliance positions around the world;
Directed more than 300 third-party legal and accounting experts who have dedicated in excess of 79,000 hours to this effort;
Conducted more than 85 in-country visits and more than 1,000 interviews of market personnel;
Spent more than $35 million on new processes and procedures; and
Conducted training sessions attended by more than 19,000 associates.
“We recognize that our effort to date is a work in progress and there is more to be done as we continue building a world-class FCPA compliance program.”