SA a 'corrupt' risk for Wal-Mart
WASHINGTON - Lawyers for Wal-Mart have flagged Brazil, China, India and South Africa, in addition to Mexico, as countries that represent the highest corruption risk in a global review, according to a letter from lawmakers investigating the company.
The lawyers said they reviewed Wal-Mart policies in Mexico, Brazil and China, and later recommended the company to evaluate its operations in South Africa and India.
They referred to those countries as regions where the risk was the greatest, said the lawmakers.
Wal-Mart acknowledged it is probing bribery allegations in its Mexican operations and that it is conducting a global review of its anti-corruption compliance programme, but has not provided details about the review.
According to the letter from Democrats Elijah Cummings and Henry Waxman, Wal-Mart asked its lawyers to expand the review to a worldwide assessment of the company's anti-corruption policies.
The review led Wal-Mart to revise its programme to include a new procedure for escalating corruption complaints to senior management and the board's audit committee, the letter said.
Cummings and Waxman asked the company on Tuesday to provide documents about the review and the recommendations. They wrote to Wal-Mart chief executive Michael Duke and also asked him to allow witnesses to cooperate with a congressional investigation into the allegations.
Outside lawyers for Wal-Mart briefed the lawmakers in May about the company's programme to comply with the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act that bars bribes to foreign governments. But the lawyers did not answer questions about the substance of the allegations, which were brought to light by theNew York Times that Wal-Mart de Mexico orchestrated bribes of $24-million to help it grow quickly and that its top brass tried to cover it up.