Wal-Mart ordered to provide more documents

May 21, 2013

Photo by Flikr user elmadaAssociated Press, 5/20/2013

A U.S. judge ordered attorneys for Wal-Mart Stores to turn over more information to shareholders seeking records on how the company responded to allegations of bribery involving its operations in Mexico. The judge on Monday suggested that Wal-Mart attorneys had taken a “persnickety and narrow” approach to turning over documents requested by attorneys for large pension funds trying to find out what, and when, company directors knew of the payments.

The plaintiffs also want information about an internal investigation conducted by Bentonville, Ark.-based Wal-Mart into allegations that bribes were used to speed building permits and gain other favors. The bribery allegations, first reported by The New York Times last year, were carried out by top executives of its Mexican subsidiary to build stores across that country.

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Wal-Mart CEO Knew of Bribery in Mexico Since 2005, Emails Show

January 11, 2013

Fox News Latino, 1/11/2013

Photo by Flikr user digitalmoneyworldNew emails released by U.S. lawmakers show that Wal-Mart CEO Mike Duke learned in 2005 that executives in the company’s México unit handed out bribes to local officials — contradicting earlier company that they knew nothing about it. Democratic Congressmen Elijah Cummings and Henry Waxman, who are investigating bribery charges at Wal-Mart’s Mexico division, released emails on Thursday that indicate that 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.

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Pemex Sues Siemens, SK, Alleging Bribery in Refinery Project

December 17, 2012

Wall Street Journal 12/14/2012

120px-PemexMexico’s state-owned oil company Petroleos Mexicanos, or Pemex, is suing German conglomerate Siemens AG (SIE, SIE.XE) and South Korea’s SK Engineering & Construction Co. for as much as $1.5 billion in a U.S. district court for allegedly using bribery to win a 1997 refinery contract and to keep it after serious cost overruns, Dow Jones Newswires reported.

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Mexico’s new president faces many challenges-Mexico Institute in the News

December 5, 2012

Market place, 12/3/2012

mexican flagMexico has a new president. Enrique Peña Nieto announced major economic initiatives as he was inaugurated over the weekend. On the inside of the festivities, Peña Nieto’s first day on the job was all cheers. Outside, rioters opposed to Peña Nieto and his PRI party charged official barriers and threw Molotov cocktails. Police fired rubber bullets and exploded tear gas canisters.

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Bureaucrats and backhanders: The paperwork is dwindling, but bribes persist

December 3, 2012

The Economist, 11/24/2012

Mexico CIty Cathedral Photo by Flickr user worldsurferA Buddhist monk, some neatly dressed Mormon missionaries and a young Guatemalan reading Nietzsche are among those waiting in the offices of the National Institute of Migration for their visas to be issued. Clerks tell visitors to take a seat—a mischievous joke, since there are vastly more people than chairs in the cramped waiting room. The air is thick with boredom and barely stifled rage. Doing business in Mexico can be a frustrating experience, thanks to the country’s affection for trámites, or red tape. Woe betide anyone who seeks a permit without the requisite number of photocopies or a notary’s stamp. Until recently foreigners of both sexes who wanted to live in Mexico had to fill in a form that included questions on their style of moustache (thin, trimmed or bushy?).

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Wal-Mart Mexico Subsidiary Hit by New Allegations

August 17, 2012

ABC, 8/15/12

Photo by Flikr user elmadaWalmex V-series shares fell 6.2 percent to 35.80 pesos ($2.70) a share on Mexico’s stock exchange Wednesday following release of the letter from U.S. Reps. Henry Waxman and Elijah Cummings describing the new allegations.

“We have obtained internal company documents, including internal audit reports, from other sources suggesting that Wal-Mart may have had compliance issues relating not only to bribery, but also to ‘questionable financial behavior’ including tax evasion and money laundering in Mexico,” the two U.S. congressmen wrote in the letter to Michael Duke, CEO of Wal-Mart Stores.

Walmex said in a statement that “it has no knowledge that (it) is being investigated by Mexican authorities concerning these issues.”

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Walmart scales back Mexico plans

June 21, 2012

Financial Times, 6/21/12

Photo by Flikr user elmadaWalmart Mexico said on Wednesday that it expected to open 325 to 335 new stores  this year, a reduction from plans announced in February to open 410 to 436. It  said total investment this year would be cut to 17.5bn pesos from 19.7bn pesos.

Without referring to the bribery allegations, it said: “The revision to the  expansion programme is primarily due to additional steps the company is adding  to its real estate process that extends the average time required to open a  store.”

According to allegations in the New York Times in April, Walmart  paid bribes to secure new store permits in Mexico and then hushed up the  practice more than six years ago. Last year Mexico made up 6.5 per cent of its  total sales.

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Mexico seeks freeze on politician’s bank accounts

June 6, 2012

Associated Press, 6/4/2012

Mexican federal prosecutors are seeking to freeze all bank accounts linked to a former governor of a northern state that borders Texas who has been accused of accepting millions of dollars in bribes from drug cartels, an official said Friday.

No criminal charges have been filed against Yarrington, who was governor from 1999 to 2004. But civil actions filed by U.S. authorities allege that Yarrington “acquired millions of dollars in payments” while in public office from drug cartels “and from various extortion or bribery schemes.”

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Op-ed: The Sun, the Moon and Walmart

May 1, 2012

The New York Times, Homero Aridjis, 5/1/12

A CHILD in Mexico soon learns that corruption is a way of life, and that to get ahead in school, work and politics, “El que no transa, no avanza” – loosely, “You’re not going anywhere if you don’t cheat.”

When I was in junior high school, my history teacher sold us lottery tickets, promising that the more we bought, the higher our grades would be. The winning number, he said, would coincide with the National Lottery winner. I happened to buy that number and received the highest grade, but because he kept the tickets, I never got the money.

Years later, as president of an environmental activist organization called the Group of 100, I was offered visits to Las Vegas (chips provided), cars (drivers included), cash and even prostitutes in exchange for staying silent. But my most uncomfortable experience was in 1988, when I met with the secretary of Fisheries to protest the killing of dolphins by tuna fishers. He asked me, “What’s your problem?” “I don’t have any problems,” I replied. “How can I help you?” “Make the tuna fleet stop killing dolphins.” He reached for his checkbook. “Let’s talk money, how much do you want?”

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New York Pension Funds to Challenge Wal-Mart

May 1, 2012

The New York Times, 4/30/12

Concerned about Wal-Mart’s reported cover-up of bribery in its Mexico operations, leaders of New York City’s pension funds said Monday they would vote their 4.7 million company shares against five directors standing for re-election to the retailer’s board at its annual shareholder meeting next month.

It was unclear whether other investors would join the city pension funds and vote against Wal-Mart’s directors. Board members at some large public companies have come under fire from shareholders at annual meetings this year, but most of the opposition has been related to executive pay practices. It is unusual for board members to be unseated by a shareholder vote.

With Wal-Mart’s internal practices under the microscope, however, some investors said the company’s annual meeting could be contentious.

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