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Mexican govt must probe Wal Mart: watchdog

Reported by AAP
Monday, April 23, 2012
Super-rich getting richerThe world's super-rich could actually be wealthier than anyone first thought.

Mexico's federal government should investigate allegations of a vast bribery campaign by top executives of Wal-Mart's Mexican subsidiary to build stores across the country, the head of a watchdog group says.

Eduardo Bohorquez, director of Transparencia Mexicana, on Sunday said international conventions obligate Mexico's government to get involved even though only local officials have been accused in the scandal.

Government officials have not commented on the allegations contained in a New York Times report, published on Saturday, that said Wal-Mart Stores Inc failed to notify law enforcement after its own investigators found evidence that millions of dollars in bribes had been paid in Mexico to spur the company's rapid expansion there.

One of every five Wal-Mart stores now is in Mexico and it is that country's largest private employer, with 209,000 employees there.

The Times said Wal-Mart shut down its internal probe despite a report by its lead investigator that Mexican and US laws likely were violated by executives of its biggest foreign subsidiary, Wal-Mart de Mexico.

In recent years, the US government has stepped up enforcement of the 1977 Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which bars US companies from bribing foreign government officials or companies to secure or retain business.

Numerous corporations have been ensnared by the law, including Johnson & Johnson, which agreed last year to pay $US70 million ($A67.95 million) to settle charges that it bribed doctors in Europe and paid kickbacks to the Iraqi government.

Avon Products Inc fired its vice chairman in January as part of a long-running probe into allegations that bribes were paid in China.

A former chief executive of engineering and construction firm KBR Inc was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison in February for bribing officials in Nigeria to win contracts.

Last month, Mexican authorities announced that they were investigating allegations that a US aviation company paid bribes to secure contracts to maintain government aircraft.

Mexico's Attorney General's Office said the probe involved six officials at two federal agencies and two state governments who allegedly took bribes from Oklahoma-based BizJet International Sales and Support Inc in exchange of work contracts. Prosecutors said the case involved about $US2 million ($A1.94 million) in bribes for contracts worth at least $US24 million ($A23.30 million).

The office gave no other details about the case, but the US Department of Justice said BizJet had agreed to pay an $US11.8 million ($A11.45 million) fine to settle a corruption case that alleges its employees bribed government officials in Mexico and Panama to secure maintenance contracts.

The Justice Department said that Bizjet employees between 2004 and 2010 paid bribes to officials at Mexico's Federal Police, the Mexican President's Fleet, the air fleets for the Mexican states of Sinaloa and Sonora and Panama's Civil Aviation Authority.

03/09/2014 07:19Sydney, Australia. 3 September,2014
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