(BUSINESS INSIDER) – One of the world's most successful and respected companies, Walmart, has just been caught in a massive bribery scandal that extends to the highest levels of the organization.
Just as bad, Walmart's senior management appears to have long known about the scandal and has deliberately tried to cover it up.
In an investigation that could lead to the humiliation and firing of several senior Walmart executives – if not criminal charges – the New York Times's David Barstow reveals the following:
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Walmart de Mexico, a highly successful business for Walmart (1/5th of Walmart's stores worldwide are in Mexico), systematically bribed Mexican government officials for years.
The bribes, which may have totaled more than $24 million, were paid to win permission to open new stories vastly more quickly than would have been possible had the company adhered to Mexican laws.
The bribes were initially hidden from Walmart's global headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas, by disguising them as normal legal bills (a.k.a., accounting fraud).