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Democratic Reps. Henry Waxman and Elijah Cummings are pressuring Walmart over emails showing that now-CEO Mike Duke learned in 2005 about allegations that Walmart executives were using illegal bribery to help drive the company's expansion in Mexico, and specifically about bribery used to locate a store near the pyramids at Teotihuacan. In a letter to Duke, Waxman and Cummings write:
Documents we have obtained show that check requests were made for the Teotihuacan project for “payment to a gestoria for obtaining the Road/Highway Ruling” and “payment for certification of excavation actions carried out by the INAH.”

These documents appear to be genuine.  On January 9, 2013, we shared them with your counsel and asked him to advise us by January 10, 2013, if Wal-Mart disputes their authenticity.  Your counsel did not raise any question about their authenticity.

These documents and e-mails call into question your company’s statement that “[n]one of the associates we have interviewed, including people responsible for real estate projects in Mexico during this time period, recall any mention of bribery allegations related to this store.”  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.

Walmart is arguing that there's nothing to see here, because everything Cummings and Waxman have released was public knowledge anyway, and also:
[T]he lawmakers misinterpreted its prior remarks that executives didn't know about bribery allegations, which the company said referred to an earlier time period before the store opened in 2004.

The company said it is still investigating whether Wal-Mart executives knew of bribery allegations in 2005 and failed to report them to authorities.

Yes, Walmart's argument appears to be that it has issued enough statements responding to bribery scandals that two longtime House members and their staffs got confused about which statement addressed which allegations. Also, too, Walmart is investigating whether its executives knew about the bribery allegations that Cummings and Waxman released emails showing they did indeed know about. And while Walmart's investigation is totally sincere and in no way intended to produce any kind of whitewashed results, the company has not allowed Cummings and Waxman access to the person who wrote the email alerting Duke to bribery allegations.

In other words, Walmart is as committed to misdirection and obfuscation of what its executives knew when about the bribery being committed by its executives as it is committed to misdirection and obfuscation about its responsibility for working conditions in the factories that produce its goods and the warehouses that move them.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Thu Jan 10, 2013 at 11:32 AM PST.

Also republished by In Support of Labor and Unions and Daily Kos.

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