Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

National and World

January 10, 2013

Lawmakers release documents on Wal-Mart bribery

NEW YORK (AP) — Lawmakers are making public emails that show that Wal-Mart Stores Inc.'s CEO found out in 2005 that the retailer was handing out bribes in Mexico.

Democratic Congressmen Elijah E. Cummings and Henry A. Waxman, who are investigating bribery charges at Wal-Mart's Mexico division, on Thursday released emails that indicate that Mike Duke and other senior Wal-Mart officials were informed multiple times starting in 2005 about bribes being made in the country. U.S. law forbids American companies from bribing foreign officials.

The emails, which the lawmakers obtained from a confidential source, contradict claims by Wal-Mart senior executives that they had no knowledge of bribes being made by the company, particularly for a store in Teotihuacan, Mexico, the congressmen say. The store was built on the site of ancient ruins as the company expanded in Mexico.

The lawmakers shared the documents with Wal-Mart on Wednesday, and sent a letter to Duke asking for a meeting to discuss them.

"It would be a serious matter if the CEO of one of our nation's largest companies failed to address allegations of a bribery scheme," according to the letter written by Waxman and Cummings to Duke.

Allegations first surfaced in April that Wal-Mart failed to notify law enforcement that company officials authorized millions of dollars in bribes in Mexico to speed up getting building permits and gain other favors. Wal-Mart has been working with government officials in the U.S. and Mexico on that investigation.

Wal-Mart has conducted an internal investigation into the matter. And last November, the retailer said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that it was looking into potential U.S. bribery law violations in Brazil, China and India.

Brooke Buchanan, a Wal-Mart's spokeswoman, issued a statement on Thursday saying that it has been providing information to the Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission, including the documents that were released by lawmakers on Thursday. The world's largest retailer also said that it is exploring other ways to make additional information available

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