On November 15, Matthew J. Feeley, Shareholder in Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney’s Litigation Section, was quoted in an article in The New York Times regarding a recent disclosure in a Wal-Mart antibribery investigation.
In 2011, Wal-Mart began an internal antibribery investigation after an audit was performed regarding how its international subsidiaries were complying with anticorruption policies. In 2005, Wal-Mart allegedly discovered a bribery scheme regarding the opening of stores in Mexico, in which Wal-Mart de Mexico, the company’s largest foreign subsidiary, is alleged to have paid bribes to obtain the permits and licenses necessary for opening new stories.
Recently, Wal-Mart disclosed that its investigations have extended beyond Mexico to China, India and Brazil, countries that comprise Wal-Mart’s largest portion of foreign locations. Such a disclosure suggests Wal-Mart has uncovered evidence of potential violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and potentially indicates that Wal-Mart has found enough evidence to be concerned about its business practices in those three other countries.
Wal-Mart has been keeping the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Justice Department informed of their internal investigation and is cooperating with the agencies as they look into Wal-Mart’s compliance with the antibribery law.
The recent disclosure by Wal-Mart “does support their effort to be transparent,” explained Feeley. He also explained that it is typical in cases such as this one for a company to regularly update the SEC and Justice Department with “very detailed presentations about the results of the internal investigation” in the hope of receiving a reduced punishment from these agencies.