Walmart Discloses Internal Investigation Into Corruption

Walmart Neighborhood Market
Walmart Neighborhood Market

Gee. Um, no comment.

Wal-Mart said in a filing Thursday that it might have violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and that it had begun an internal investigation, hired outside counsel and alerted the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The company said the investigation was a result of a voluntary internal review of its global anticorruption practices this year along with information “from other sources.”

“The company has begun an internal investigation into whether certain matters, including permitting, licensing and inspections, were in compliance with the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act,” Wal-Mart said in its quarterly filing to the S.E.C.

The act forbids bribing foreign officials, among other items.

Matthew J. Feeley, a lawyer with Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney who works on Foreign Corrupt Practices Act cases, said companies had incentives to go to the government on their own if they suspected the act had been violated in the hope of getting some type of leniency. “It’s expressly stated that they will give credit for that voluntary disclosure,” he said of the S.E.C. and Justice Department. Outcomes can include the government’s declining to take action, its asking the company to issue a press release or file a court report about the facts of the case, or its levying heavy fines and asking for a guilty plea, he said.

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(parenthetical note: why does the NYT, and so many news outlets spell Walmart with a dash? Notice the photo of a newly opened Walmart I took recently: no dash. Yet the NYT calls the corrupt company, “Wal-Mart”. )

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