Fin24

US fingers Walmart boss in Mexico bribe

2013-01-10 19:21

Washington - US lawmakers on Thursday released emails that appeared to show Walmart Chief Executive Mike Duke knew as far back as 2005 of allegations that company representatives had bribed Mexican officials.

The emails appeared to contradict the company's public statements about a bribery scandal tied to its Mexican affiliate, Walmart de Mexico. Lawmakers said Walmart Stores Inc did not dispute the authenticity of the emails.

In two reports last year, the New York Times described how Walmex used large bribes throughout Mexico to open stores it would otherwise have been unable to launch, and how Walmart headquarters had stifled an early internal probe.

The second report focused on how Walmex allegedly paid $52 000 to change a zoning map so it could open a store near the ancient pyramids in Teotihuacan.

The company has maintained its senior executives did not recall mentions of bribery allegations related to the Teotihuacan store.

But in documents released by Elijah Cummings, the top Democrat on the US House Oversight Committee, and Henry Waxman, the top Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, senior lawyers for the company told Duke about the Teotihuacan allegations in 2005.

One email from Walmart General Counsel Thomas Mars in October 2005 provided Duke with a memo summarizing the allegations with a note saying: "You'll want to read this. I'm available to discuss next steps."

A Walmart spokesperson said the company would respond to questions about the matter shortly.

Shares of Walmart were down 1% to $67.90 in late-morning trading.