Wal-Mart Cover Up- Would a Hot-Line Have Helped?

Ed. Note-we continue our series of guest posts from our colleague Mary Shaddock Jones, who today draws some lessons from the Wal-Mart matter.

On November 8, 2006 Wal-Mart entered the Canadian Market opening three supercenters in Ancaster, London and Stouffville in Ontario, Canada. On April 21, 2012, the New York Times published an article which included the following statements:

“In September 2005, a senior Wal-Mart lawyer received an alarming e-mail from a former executive at the company’s largest foreign subsidiary, Wal-Mart de Mexico. In the e-mail and follow-up conversations, the former executive described how Wal-Mart de Mexico had orchestrated a campaign of bribery to win market dominance. In its rush to build stores, he said, the company had paid bribes to obtain permits in virtually every corner of the country. The former executive gave names, dates and bribe amounts. He knew so much, he explained, because for years he had been the lawyer in charge of obtaining construction permits for Wal-Mart de Mexico. Wal-Mart dispatched investigators to Mexico City, and within days they unearthed evidence of widespread bribery. They found a paper trail of hundreds of suspect payments totaling more than $24 million. They also found documents showing that Wal-Mart de Mexico’s top executives not only knew about the payments, but had taken steps to conceal them from Wal-Mart’s headquarters in Bentonville, Ark. In a confidential report to his superiors, Wal-Mart’s lead investigator, a former F.B.I. special agent, summed up their initial findings this way: “There is reasonable suspicion to believe that Mexican and USA laws have been violated.” The lead investigator recommended that Wal-Mart expand the investigation. Instead, an examination by The New York Times found, Wal-Mart’s leaders shut it down.”

This is not the type of news that the Board of Directors of U.S. public company wants to learn about through a newspaper headline ...

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