This doesn't look too good: New allegations of corruption have come out about Walmart's speedy expansion into Mexico, courtesy of a former executive who worked for Wal-Mart de Mexico until 2004, Sergio Cicero Zapata. More specifically, he claims that the company spent about $24 million bribing city and government officials. Eeek.
According to a New York Times article:
In the interviews, Mr. Cicero recounted how he had helped organize years of payoffs. He described personally dispatching two trusted outside lawyers to deliver envelopes of cash to government officials. They targeted mayors and city council members, obscure urban planners, low-level bureaucrats who issued permits — anyone with the power to thwart Wal-Mart’s growth. The bribes, he said, bought zoning approvals, reductions in environmental impact fees and the allegiance of neighborhood leaders.
He called it working “the dark side of the moon.”
The Times also reviewed thousands of government documents related to permit requests for stores across Mexico. The examination found many instances where permits were given within weeks or even days of Wal-Mart de Mexico’s payments to the two lawyers. Again and again, The Times found, legal and bureaucratic obstacles melted away after payments were made.
Of course, Walmart released a statement disputing Cicero's claims, though it basically tells us nothing. In it, company spokesman David Tovar detailed that, if there was bribery, it happened over six years ago, and: "We take compliance with the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) very seriously and are committed to having a strong and effective global anti-corruption program in every country in which we operate. We will not tolerate noncompliance with FCPA anywhere or at any level of the company."
Sounds a tad shady. Opinions?