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Lawmakers Say Wal-Mart Not Cooperating in Bribery Probe

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. hasn’t provided enough information in an investigation of allegations company executives bribed Mexican officials to expedite store openings in that nation, a pair of Democratic lawmakers wrote today in a letter to Chief Executive Officer Mike Duke.

Representative Elijah Cummings, of Maryland, and Representative Henry Waxman, of California, who are probing the issue, told Duke they have yet to receive documents related to the allegations. The world’s largest retailer hasn’t made executives or in-house staff available for questions and has only made outside attorneys available, according to the letter.

Cummings and Waxman are requesting the Bentonville, Arkansas-based retailer send internal staff to a briefing scheduled for tomorrow to discuss the investigation.

“You have not provided us with the information we requested,” the letter stated. “Wal-Mart’s actions to date significantly inhibit our ability to investigate these allegations.”

Wal-Mart said in April that the company is cooperating with investigations by the U.S. Justice Department and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission into the allegations. That month, the New York Times reported that a senior Wal-Mart lawyer received reports of bribery in September 2005 and a cover-up may have occurred later.

Wal-Mart ‘Cooperating’

“We are cooperating with the ongoing federal investigations, and as appropriate, will also continue to assist members of Congress and their staffs in understanding our efforts to address FCPA issues,” Wal-Mart spokesman David Tovar, said via e-mail, referring to the chain’s bid to be in compliance with the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

“We have already provided committee staff with one briefing and have another briefing scheduled tomorrow.”

Cummings is a ranking member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and Waxman is a ranking member of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.

The Congressional committees are also requesting that, by June 26, Wal-Mart give them the company’s new anti-corruption policies and procedures and explain what those practices were before changes were made.

The lawmakers also want documents detailing any internal findings related to the corruption probe and explaining how Wal-Mart is changing its protocols for handling such issues.

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