Wal-Mart has been on the march across Latin America over the last 20 years. America’s largest private employer is now also the leader in all of Latin America.
From their launch pad in Mexico, where an incredible one in five of all Wal-Mart stores now reside, they have successfully conquered Brazil Argentina, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Chile and Puerto Rico.
It is now coming to light how they might have facilitated such rapid progress in a region known for massive bureaucracy.
A former Wal-Mart executive has exposed a widespread bribery campaign inside Mexico orchestrated by Wal-Mart in order to “gain market dominance.” Apparently, the price to do so was a mere $24 million dollars — hardly a drop in the bucket compared to its now $380 billion annual revenue in that country.
What is staggering is the brazenness with which they went about the campaign:
The former executive gave names, dates and bribe amounts. He knew so much, he explained, because for years he had been the lawyer in charge of obtaining construction permits for Wal-Mart de Mexico.
Wal-Mart dispatched investigators to Mexico City, and within days they unearthed evidence of widespread bribery. They found a paper trail of hundreds of suspect payments totaling more than $24 million. They also found documents showing that Wal-Mart de Mexico’s top executives not only knew about the payments, but had taken steps to conceal them from Wal-Mart’s headquarters in Bentonville, Ark. In a confidential report to his superiors, Wal-Mart’s lead investigator, a former F.B.I. special agent, summed up their initial findings this way: ‘There is reasonable suspicion to believe that Mexican and USA laws have been violated.’
In one meeting where the bribery case was discussed, H. Lee Scott Jr., then Wal-Mart’s chief executive, rebuked internal investigators for being overly aggressive. Days later, records show, Wal-Mart’s top lawyer arranged to ship the internal investigators’ files on the case to Mexico City. Primary responsibility for the investigation was then given to the general counsel of Wal-Mart de Mexico — a remarkable choice since the same general counsel was alleged to have authorized bribes. (Source)
Wal-Mart is currently in damage-control mode, as its stock has slumped nearly 5% based on the allegations that they have engaged in a top-to-bottom coverup of their practices.
Wal-Mart’s despicable behavior is being protested against in every country where their model of cheap slave goods and corruption has been instrumental in decimating local economies . . . even in the wealthier nations where their consumer base resides.
Research into the impact that Wal-Mart has on local U.S. communities only enhances the other forms of exploitation that Wal-Mart is well-known for across the world, with well-documented slave labor being used to create their “cheap” goods by poor people in other countries so that poor people in the U.S. can afford them. This is an organization known for blatant discrimination against women, and for playing games on every level with people’s wages and healthcare.
Mexico is a very large piece of the pie for a company like Wal-Mart, and their practices there indicate a willingness to do whatever it takes to set up shop and expand. Something tells me that this is merely the tip of the iceberg, and that this practice is likely to have been part of their business model throughout the region. We’ll just have to wait until the next former executive steps up to the plate and has the courage to expose their latest crime.
Read other articles by John Galt here.