Wal-Mart issued a response today to the big New York Times Wal-Mart de Mexico corruption story that alleges the company payed up to $24 million in bribes to hurry expansion. The story released on Saturday provides vivid details of a system of bribes used by the company, along with the efforts used to cover them up. Vice President of Corporate Communications David Tozar released a statement on Sunday that made sure to remind everyone that the allegations in the story happened six years ago:
“Many of the alleged activities in The New York Times article are more than six years old. If these allegations are true, it is not a reflection of who we are or what we stand for. We are deeply concerned by these allegations and are working aggressively to determine what happened.
Tozar explained that they've hired a team of outside legal consultants and forensic accountants to investigate the company's compliance with the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which makes it illegal for U.S. companies to bribe officials when working outside the country.
Tozar also said the company voluntarily met with the Department of Justice and the SEC to inform them of the internal investigation. The original Times report claims they only met with the DoJ after catching wind of the Times' reporting in Mexico.
Sergio Cicero Zapata is the central character in the Times' story. He worked for Wal-Mart until 2004. While with the company, Cicero worked to arrange bribes for local officials to rapidly advance zoning and building permits for Wal-Mart's expansion into Mexico. He informed a senior Wal-Mart lawyer of his dealings when he left the company, but even then the allegations were largely glossed over, according to the Times' report.
Here is the video of David Tozar included in the statement released on Sunday: