retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Bloomberg this morning reports that Walmart's Mexican business unit "used a current state governor there to facilitate $156,000 in bribes meant to help open stores, an ex-lawyer for the retailer told company officials in 2005, according to documents released by members of the U.S. Congress.

"The payments were negotiated by Graco Ramirez Garrido Abreu, who at the time served as a federal lawmaker for the state of Morelos, a Wal-Mart summary of the accusations stated ... The accusations by attorney Sergio Cicero Zapata, who alleged Ramirez was 'the main contact person' to speed needed permissions from the Urban Development Ministry, came in a summary of an Oct. 13, 2005 meeting with the retailer’s officials. Cicero, a 28-year veteran of the company, told them he set up the bribery scheme while employed by Wal-Mart. He was forced out in 2004 after colleagues questioned his oversight of payments to consultants in company-related real-estate deals."

The documents were released by Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Maryland) and Rep. Henry Waxman (D-California), who have been spearheading a Congressional investigation into Walmart bribery allegations first made in a New York Times story. The also are probes being conducted by the US Department of Justice and the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Bloomberg writes that Governor Ramirez is denying the charges, while Walmart is saying that "there is nothing new in these documents," and that the charges have been out there for more than a year.
KC's View:
It strikes me that there is some grandstanding going on here by the congressmen, but that's almost irrelevant, except in terms of the news cycle.

It will be when the SEC and the Justice Department release their reports that the dominoes will fall and maybe, just maybe, heads will roll.