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Times Article Spurs Wal-Mart to Look Into Allegations of Bribery by Its Executives in Mexico

Wal-Mart Stores Inc.'s probe of possible bribery in Mexico may prompt executive departures and steep U.S. government fines if it reveals senior managers knew about the payments and didn't take strong enough action, corporate governance experts said.

Wal-Mart said in a statement it is looking into a New York Times story that said its representatives in Mexico bribed local officials to get stores opened faster and that executives probed allegations as far back as 2005. In a December 2011 U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing, Wal-Mart said it was examining whether it was in compliance with the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, without saying what region or when time period was in question.

At the time Wal-Mart conducted an initial internal probe and ended it in 2006, the U.S. Department of Justice was starting to crack down on foreign bribery cases. Waiting for years to disclose the case may mean tougher sanctions for the retailer and for individuals, governance and legal experts said.

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Wal-Mart said in a statement it is looking into a New York Times story that said its representatives in Mexico bribed local officials to get stores opened faster and that executives probed allegations as far back as 2005. In a December 2011 U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing, Wal-Mart said it was examining whether it was in compliance with the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, without saying what region or when time period was in question.

At the time Wal-Mart conducted an initial internal probe and ended it in 2006, the U.S. Department of Justice was starting to crack down on foreign bribery cases. Waiting for years to disclose the case may mean tougher sanctions for the retailer and for individuals, governance and legal experts said.

Read Full Article