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The Wall Street Journal reports this morning that a federal investigation - conducted by the US Department of Justice, Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) - "into potential foreign bribery by Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has unearthed evidence of possible misconduct by the retailer in Brazil, after investigators found little to support the sweeping allegations involving Mexico that initially prompted the probe, according to documents and people familiar with the matter."

According to the story, "Federal prosecutors are examining $500,000 in payments that they believe ultimately went to an individual hired to obtain government permits the company needed to build two stores in Brasília, Brazil’s capital, between 2009 and 2012, an investigative document shows ... Prosecutors are examining whether senior employees at Wal-Mart in Brazil at the time knew of and approved of the suspected payments, the people said. The investigation into the Brazil allegations is at an early stage and it isn’t clear if anyone will be charged."

While no evidence of bribery in Mexico has been found, despite the fact that it was allegations about misbehavior in Mexico that prompted the original investigation, there has been evidence of "widespread but small-payment bribery in India. If prosecutors also are able to prove bribery by Wal-Mart in Brazil, it could turn the case against the company into a multinational action and prompt a larger penalty. Still, the offenses would fall short of the broader pattern of bribery in Mexico that was initially suspected."

Walmart has said it is cooperating with the various agencies and investigations.
KC's View:
Seems to me that this story has gone from being a significant threat to being almost a minor inconvenience for Walmart. I'm a little surprised by this ... I thought the Mexico bribe story was going to be a bigger deal. But at this point, it appears to be a bigger story for the media than it is a problem for Walmart.