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Wal-Mart Bribery Allegations

April 24, 2012 by staff 

Wal-Mart Bribery Allegations, Claims that U.S. retail giant Wal-Mart used payoffs to speed zoning and other permits in its break-neck Mexican expansion is sparking soul-searching in Mexico, where crowded government offices are the working grounds of shadowy facilitators known as “gestores.”

Front-running presidential candidate Enrique Pena Nieto told The Associated Press in an interview Monday that “there is a truly critical situation in the country.”

He said he thinks an independent governmental anti-corruption commission is needed to root out the bribes and payoffs that many say have become as common as paying a light bill, and sometimes easier.

“This is an endemic vice, a vice that leads us nowhere,” Pena Nieto said.

According to a New York Times report, Wal-Mart executives turned to middlemen in the early 2000s to grease the way for building up the company’s Mexican subsidiary, which has become its biggest foreign operation.

Whether at least $8.5 million that was apparently paid to gestores actually wound up as bribes for corrupt local officials remains to be seen. The Times also said an additional $16 million were paid directly to local governments.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. says it is conducting its own investigation, and two U.S. congressmen announced they are opening a probe. The Mexican federal government announced Monday evening that it had no jurisdiction in the case because the report referred only to the involvement of state and city officials with authority over permits and zoning decisions.

State-level governments in the state of Mexico and Mexico City also appeared to duck the issue, saying they had not opened any investigation because none of their authorities were specifically mentioned in the allegations.

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