Allegations of widespread bribery at Wal-Mart's Mexican subsidiary continued to reverberate on Tuesday, with the company beginning a campaign to limit the damage as its shares declined further.
In a statement, Wal-Mart said it had beefed up its internal controls to make sure it was complying with the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which prohibits American companies from bribing foreign officials to secure business. In a newly created position, a top-level compliance official will be responsible for ensuring that the company abides by the law and will oversee five regional compliance directors based in international markets.
In Mexico, the retailer said it had bolstered its training, auditing and internal controls to ensure better compliance with laws against bribery. “We are taking a deep look at our policies and procedures in every country in which we operate,” said David Tovar, a Wal-Mart spokesman.
The New York Times disclosed on Sunday that Wal-Mart’s own investigators had found evidence that Wal-Mart de Mexico had paid millions of dollars in bribes to help advance its expansion in a crucial market. When executives at Wal-Mart’s Arkansas headquarters were told of the findings, they shut down the investigation, The Times found.
But on Tuesday, Tovar shot back, “We believe it’s also important to keep a few things in context: The allegations in the Times story about the decisions made in Bentonville are more than six years old.” In addition, he noted that Wal-Mart began its own investigation six months ago and was cooperating with law enforcement authorities.