In the US, investigating the corruption of the world’s largest retailer Walmart: for six years, us authorities have been investigating whether Walmart government officials in Mexico, India and China bribed to speed up the opening of stores. Walmart and the US government wanted to make a deal worth $ 300 million to close the case, but the parties reached an impasse.
Last year, Walmart has allocated about $ 300 million for a possible agreement with the US government on the case of corruption by representatives of the company, Bloomberg writes. But eight months later, the parties stalled, three sources familiar with the issue said. It’s not about money: one source of tension is the insistence of prosecutors that Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, allows for some misconduct.
The conflict leaves unfinished one of the largest corruption investigations in the world. For six years, U.S. authorities have been investigating whether Walmart was bribed by government officials in Mexico, India, and China to speed up the opening of stores.
In November 2011, Walmart reported possible violations in Mexico to the Department of justice and the SEC. In 2012, The New York Times outlined the details of these offences: the retailer has paid about $ 24 million to Mexican officials for substitute licenses and environmental permits, victory over competitors in terms of opening stores etc., This scheme has transformed Walmart’s the largest private-sector employer in the country.
However, according to sources familiar with this issue, most of the retailer’s actions found in Mexico cannot be used as evidence, due to the Statute of limitations. Therefore, the government sought to find more competitive evidence in other countries. Thus, in Brazil and India, investigators found more recent examples of so-called “improper payments”, and struggled to find examples of illegal actions of the company in China, said the sources of the publication.
In the six years that the anti-corruption case has been in progress, Walmart has spent about $ 900 million on litigation costs and other costs associated with the investigation, including a global review of its internal compliance systems.
Walmart is not recognized for corruption and this is not the only obstacle to the deal. The postponement of the transaction is also related to the securities and exchange Commission (SEC). The two parties have not yet exchanged the necessary documents to complete the transaction, another source said. According to him, it is unclear what causes the delay.
Complicating the situation, in the first 18 months of the new administration of President Trump, investigative officials were replaced, leaving the Prosecutor of the Ministry of justice, which controls the case, in the standby mode. And until recently, the Department of justice investigation unit did not have a Senate-approved supervisor who could help break any deadlock.
At the same time, Walmart hired Rachel Brand, official No. 3 of the Ministry of justice, as Executive Vice President. As Deputy attorney General, brand was not involved in the investigation against Walmart, nor was She in control of the unit that handled the case. Walmart said that the Brand complies with the Federal rules regarding contact with the Ministry of justice. According to former prosecutors, because the Brand does not control the question, she probably does have several limitations
“We continue to negotiate with government agencies, as we are working to reach an agreement,” the press service of Walmart reported.
The justice Department and the SEC declined to comment.