(Bloomberg) – Walmart Inc. completed a seven-year US Government survey on payments for business opportunities tracking in several countries by accepting paying over $ 282 million in penalties. Its Brazilian unit admitted to violating a crime law.
WMT Brasilia pleaded guilty on Thursday for failing to keep accurate records, while the US parent reached a non-prosecution agreement with the Justice Department for violations of foreign corrupt practices. The company will have a surveillance monitoring for two years as part of this agreement.
"Walmart is committed to doing business the right way, and that means acting ethically wherever we operate," Walmart's CEO Doug McMillon said in a statement. "We have improved our policies, procedures and systems and invested huge resources globally in ethics and compliance, and now have a strong global anti-corruption requirement."
The decision, published in Virginia registrations and press releases, was a slow end to what was once seen as one of the largest foreign bribery cases launched by the United States. While the penalty is about one-sixth of the $ 1.78 billion charged to Petroleo Brasiliero SA in the fall in one of South America's biggest corruption scandals, Walmart closed the bill about $ 1 billion in legal fees and other investigation costs.
DOJ and SEC officials said Walmart did not take the necessary steps to avoid corruption.
"Walmart appreciated international growth and cost-saving compliance," said Charles Cain, head of the SEC's FCPA unit. "The company could have avoided many of these problems, but instead Walmart has repeatedly failed to take red flags seriously and delayed the implementation of appropriate internal accounting controls."
Walmart revealed possible violations in Mexico to the Ministry of Justice and SEC in November 2011. The following year, the New York Times outlined details of allegations that the retailer paid about $ 24 million to Mexican officials to gain rapid changes in zoning, sidestep licenses and environmental permits, and mitigate opposition to open stores that made Walmart the country's largest private sector The time articles abstained from a resurgence of foreign bribery studies, which had begun to accumulate court cases and get corporate enemies pushing Congress to clear prosecutors.
But the Walmart case posed challenges to investigators. Much of the behavior uncovered in Mexico, for example, could Not used as evidence that it was too old according to the people who were familiar with the case. So the government tried to build stronger cases in other countries. In Brazil and India, investigators found more recent examples of what they thought were incorrect payments, but struggled to find examples of violent offenses in China, the population said.
In the final days of the Obama administration, Walmart claimed to pay more than $ 600 million in penalties, leading prosecutors to return to gather more evidence from witnesses, people familiar with the case, Bloomberg said at that time.
In 2017, the company set aside nearly $ 300 million for any settlement, after which the sites killed over what misconduct the retail giant would admit to, a person familiar with the case.
On Thursday, Walmart's Brazilian unit admitted that $ 527,000 in incorrect payments to an intermediary was mistakenly recorded on financial items. Walmart Brazil employees logged these payments that go to construction companies when they knew the money was going to a former Brazilian official, according to the caregiver filed in Virginia. The former official helped Walmart win a building permit. Walmart earned more than $ 3.6 million in profits from stores built by these construction companies.
(SEC punishment updates beginning in the first paragraph.)
– With the help of Andrew Harris and Matt Robinson.
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