New York -- Wal-Mart Stores’ ongoing investigation into bribery allegations was thrust into the spotlight again on Monday after the New York Times ran a lengthy piece detailing how an elaborate series of payments accelerated construction of a controversial store in Mexico City.
The thoroughly sourced article laid out in intricate detail how Wal-Mart funneled payments to various Mexican authorities to facilitate construction of a store in the nation’s capital that was particularly controversial because of its location near the ancient Aztec pyramids of Teotihuacan. 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 Wal-Mart executives were aware of corruption in Mexico but failed to act. Wal-Mart 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 Wal-Mart 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,” Wal-Mart 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 h