In this Sunday’s New York Times, the paper revealed an explosive story of high-level corruption at Walmart, aided by a whistleblower’s account of how the retail giant bribed its way to market dominance in Mexico. But unsurprisingly, the Sunday talk shows ignored the scandal entirely.
One former executive told the Times about how Walmart employees brought envelopes of cash to government officials in Mexico in order to boost the company’s expansion:
The Times examination included more than 15 hours of interviews with the former executive, Sergio Cicero Zapata, who resigned from Wal-Mart de Mexico in 2004 after nearly a decade in the company’s real estate department.
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.
Maritza Munich, former general counsel of Wamart International, also resigned in 2006, after pushing Walmart executives to complete an investigation into the accounts of bribery. Walmart, however, quashed the investigation. The acts of bribery could be violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which makes it a crime for American corporations to bribe foreign officials. The Department of Justice is responsible for investigating potential violations of the act.
Walmart responded to the story with a lengthy statement, saying “the investigation is ongoing and we don’t have a full explanation of what happened. It would be inappropriate for us to comment further on the specific allegations until we have finished the investigation.” Walmart International has previously faced criticism for its treatment of workers and mislabeling of products.