BENTONVILLE, Ark. — Walmart has concluded a global settlement with the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that ends an investigation of more than seven years into the company’s compliance with the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). The retailer has agreed to pay a total of $282.7 million to settle all of the FCPA-related investigations or inquiries into Walmart and its subsidiaries by the DOJ and SEC.
The settlement consists of more than $144 million to settle charges by the SEC and approximately $138 million to resolve parallel criminal charges by the DOJ. The agreements relate specifically to the actions of Walmart subsidiaries in Brazil, Mexico, India and China prior to 2011. After a series of articles by The New York Times in 2012 revealed alleged bribes paid by Walmart to obtain store construction permits in Mexico, the DOJ launched an investigation of the retailer.
Under the direction of its audit committee, Walmart implemented an internal investigation and cooperated with the DOJ and SEC to establish a Global Anti-Corruption Compliance Program, spending more than $900 million on the program and on FCPA investigations and inquiries.
According to the DOJ, Walmart management failed for several years to exercise adequate controls even though it was aware of the failure of its anticorruption internal controls for foreign subsidiaries. Walmart units in Mexico, India, Brazil and China consequently were able to hire third-party intermediaries who made improper payments to government officials to secure store permits and business licenses.
As part of the settlement, Walmart Brazil has entered a guilty plea in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. The Brazilian unit was alleged to have knowingly led the parent company to maintain false records that were reflected in the company’s consolidated financial results.
“Walmart is committed to doing business the right way, and that means acting ethically everywhere we operate,” said president and chief executive officer Doug McMillon.