The recent New York Times reporting about Walmart’s alleged bribery in Mexico unleashed a lot of commentary on RetailWire. Here’s my point of view on the story:
I’m no expert on the FCPA but I believe it allows for some wiggle room. I’m sure Walmart’s lawyers will want to argue that they used money to expedite the zoning and regulatory process, not for bribes. Not making excuses, but nobody should be shocked that it’s necessary to “grease the wheels” in Mexico and elsewhere in order to get things done.
All this being said, the real question is how and why Walmart reportedly tried to sweep its internal findings under the rug until they were aggressively reported. (This is coming from a company that wears its ethics policy on its sleeve, to the point where vendors cannot buy a can of Coke for their buyers.) As they say in the case of most political scandals…it’s not the deed, it’s the coverup.
Of course, it’s also possible that Walmart’s hands are clean and the Times reporting in question had an agenda. It’s worth finding out.