Walmart Ducked Mexican Laws via Rampant Bribery

Mexican arm was 'aggressive and creative corrupter': NYT

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted Dec 18, 2012 7:50 AM CST

(Newser) – Following the New York Times' April revelation that Walmart silenced a 2006 probe into the company's Mexican bribery scandal, the Times took things into its own hands. In a lengthy investigation, the paper finds that Walmart de Mexico, the country's largest private employer, wasn't a helpless player in a sleazy system: Instead, it was "an aggressive and creative corrupter" whose payoffs allowed it to work around laws and beat out the competition. In a look at 19 store sites tied to bribes, the paper found that "the strictly forbidden became miraculously attainable": In one case, amid $341,000 in bribes, the company set up a Sam's Club in busy Mexico City—without a building license, environmental permit, or traffic permit.

When the firm wanted to build on a private alfalfa field, new zoning regulations should have prevented it—but the regulations weren't official until a map was printed in a government paper. So execs paid an insider $52,000 to get the map changed before its printing. (More than $200,000 in bribes were tied to that location in total.) A former lawyer for the company told US execs about the persistent problem, and referenced the alfalfa field location. But those bosses didn't tell Mexican authorities about the lawyer's report, and Mexican investigators, "unaware of this new evidence," ultimately found no wrongdoing in the case. The company is currently conducting a wide-ranging investigation into all 27 of its non-US markets. Click through for the Times' full piece.

A shopper carries out a newly-purchased television past protestors outside a Walmart store Friday Nov. 23, 2012, in Paramount, Calif.
A shopper carries out a newly-purchased television past protestors outside a Walmart store Friday Nov. 23, 2012, in Paramount, Calif.   (AP Photo/Nick Ut)
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