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Jan 11, 2013 at 07:20am IST

Lawmakers say Wal-Mart CEO knew about bribery in Mexico, to release email evidence

New York: Lawmakers are making public emails that show that Wal-Mart Stores Inc's cheif executive officer found out in 2005 that the retailer was handing out bribes in Mexico. Democratic Congressmen Elijah E Cummings and Henry A Waxman, who are investigating bribery charges at Wal-Mart's Mexico division, on Friday released emails that indicate that Mike Duke and other senior Wal-Mart officials were informed multiple times starting in 2005 about bribes being made in the country.

US law forbids American companies from bribing foreign officials. The emails, which the lawmakers obtained from a confidential source, contradict claims by Wal-Mart senior executives that they had no knowledge of bribes being made by the company in Mexico.

The lawmakers shared the documents with Wal-Mart on Thursday, and sent a letter to Duke asking for a meeting to discuss them. "It would be a serious matter if the CEO of one of our nation's largest companies failed to address allegations of a bribery scheme," according to the letter written by Waxman and Cummings to Duke.

Lawmakers release documents on Wal-Mart bribery

The emails contradict claims by Wal-Mart senior executives they had no knowledge of bribes made by the company.

Allegations first surfaced in April that Wal-Mart failed to notify law enforcement that company officials authorised millions of dollars in bribes in Mexico to speed up getting building permits and gain other favors. Wal-Mart has been working with government officials in the US and Mexico on that investigation.

Wal-Mart has conducted an internal investigation into the matter. And in November 2012, the retailer said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that it was looking into potential US bribery law violations in Brazil, China and India.

Brooke Buchanan, a Wal-Mart's spokeswoman, issued a statement on Friday saying that there was no new information in the letter and that it has been providing information to the Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission, including the documents that were released by lawmakers.

The world's largest retailer also said that it is exploring other ways to make additional information available. "We are committed to having a strong and effective global anti-corruption program everywhere we operate and taking appropriate action for any instance of noncompliance," Brooke said.

The bribery allegations were first reported by the New York Times. In December 2012, the paper published another story focusing on how Wal-Mart's Mexico division offered large payoffs to get things that the law prohibited.

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