Wal-Mart Bribery Cover-Up: Why This Is Not News

In General Interest by Jonathan Tasini3 Comments

    Gee, I’m shocked. Wal-Mart breaking the law, covering up bribes? What a new trend. Except it isn’t.

   Look, obviously, it’s good that this is out:

In September 2005, a senior Wal-Mart lawyer received an alarming e-mail from a former executive at the company’s largest foreign subsidiary, Wal-Mart de Mexico. In the e-mail and follow-up conversations, the former executive described how Wal-Mart de Mexico had orchestrated a campaign of bribery to win market dominance. In its rush to build stores, he said, the company had paid bribes to obtain permits in virtually every corner of the country.

The former executive gave names, dates and bribe amounts. He knew so much, he explained, because for years he had been the lawyer in charge of obtaining construction permits for Wal-Mart de Mexico.

Wal-Mart dispatched investigators to Mexico City, and within days they unearthed evidence of widespread bribery. They found a paper trail of hundreds of suspect payments totaling more than $24 million. They also found documents showing that Wal-Mart de Mexico’s top executives not only knew about the payments, but had taken steps to conceal them from Wal-Mart’s headquarters in Bentonville, Ark. In a confidential report to his superiors, Wal-Mart’s lead investigator, a former F.B.I. special agent, summed up their initial findings this way: “There is reasonable suspicion to believe that Mexican and USA laws have been violated.”

  But, this is sort of a headline and story that could go with "Wall Street Corrupt" or "Arianna Huffington is a rank hypocrite". It’s not news.

Wal-Mart is a habitual violator of wage-and-hour laws and a whole host of other workplace standards.

Wal-Mart is a habitual tax dodger.

Wal-Mart most manipulated its own internal executive compensation so it could boost the CEO’s multi-million dollar pay package–while ending last year its profit-sharing program for the peons.

   Wal-Mart faces adiscrimination suit filed by Muslims who worked for the company and allege it is anti-Muslim.

   If you are an executive or an employee that lives within a corporate culture that endorsed attacking its workers, violates the law and thrives on the poverty of its workers and its consumers, why would you even think twice to bribe someone to advance the agenda of the company.

   You would not.

   That’s why this is not really news in the big picture.

   Wal-Mart is a scar on the globe.