Wal-Mart Mexican bribery probe

April 23rd, 2012

Wal-mart is under scrutiny after a New York Times article accused the company of hampering an investigation into alleged bribery in its Mexico operations. School of Management professor James Post, an expert in corporate governance, offers the following comment on what this means for Wal-Mart’s management team:

“The cover has been blown off Wal-Mart’s systematic bribery of Mexican officials and, in its wake, are sure to follow countless lawsuits from a variety of government agencies, would-be competitors, and Wal-Mart shareholders. The company, many of its senior executives, and members of the board of directors all risk civil and criminal litigation.

“Ironically, many members of the public who have posted comments since the story broke over the weekend express no surprise that Wal-Mart, an aggressive and ambitious competitor under any circumstances, got caught up in Mexico’s so-called ‘culture of corruption.’ For those critics, Wal-Mart’s business code of conduct was little more than public relations cover for ‘business as usual.’

“Cynicism notwithstanding, Wal-Mart’s management team stands naked before the public today. The company’s corporate counsel knew what was going on; the country manager knew what was going on; the CEO was aware of what was going on; and the board of directors knew, or should have known, what was going on.

“There appear to be no innocents in the Wal-Mart hierarchy.”

Contact Post at 617-353-4162; jepost@bu.edu

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