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We found out in April, thanks to the NYT’s David Barstow, that Wal-Mart de Mexico was a corrupt organization and that the US parent company had seemingly no interest in what was going on there. But just how bad did things get? Barstow’s now back, showing that the corruption at Mexico’s largest employer was systemic and integral to its growth:
Wal-Mart de Mexico was an aggressive and creative corrupter, offering large payoffs to get what the law otherwise prohibited. It used bribes to subvert democratic governance — public votes, open debates, transparent procedures. It used bribes to circumvent regulatory safeguards that protect Mexican citizens from unsafe construction. It used bribes to outflank rivals.
Through confidential Wal-Mart documents, The Times identified 19 store sites across Mexico that were the target of Wal-Mart de Mexico’s bribes... Over and over, for example, the dates of bribe payments coincided with dates when critical permits were issued. Again and again, the strictly forbidden became miraculously attainable.
In the wake of the initial NYT report, Wal-Mart has spent $100 million investigating the bribes, including the corruption scandal at Wal-Mart’s Indian joint venture; it is also the subject of a criminal investigation, part of a larger move by the Justice Department to crack down on violators of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.