Thursday, April 26, 2018
Business

Lawmakers release documents in Wal-Mart bribery case

NEW YORK — Wal-Mart Stores CEO Mike Duke found out in 2005 that the retailer's Mexico unit was handing out bribes to local officials, according to emails obtained by lawmakers.

The lawmakers say the emails contradict earlier claims by Wal-Mart senior executives that they weren't aware of bribes being made by the company.

Democratic U.S. Reps. Elijah E. Cummings and Henry A. Waxman, who are investigating bribery charges at Wal-Mart's Mexico division, on Thursday released emails that indicate that Duke and other senior Wal-Mart officials were informed multiple times starting in 2005 about bribes being made in the country. U.S. law forbids American companies from bribing foreign officials.

The lawmakers shared the emails, which they say they got from a confidential source, with Wal-Mart on Wednesday, and sent a letter to Duke asking for a meeting to discuss them.

"It would be a serious matter if the CEO of one of our nation's largest companies failed to address allegations of a bribery scheme," according to the letter written by Waxman and Cummings to Duke.

Brooke Buchanan, a Wal-Mart's spokeswoman, said Thursday that the letter that Waxman and Cummings wrote to Duke "leaves the wrong impression that our public statements are contradicted by the information they released today."

Allegations first surfaced in April that Wal-Mart failed to notify law enforcement that company officials authorized millions of dollars in bribes in Mexico to speed up getting building permits and gain other favors. Wal-Mart has been working with government officials in the U.S. and Mexico on that investigation.

The company has been conducting an internal investigation into the matter. And in November, the retailer said in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing that it was looking into potential U.S. bribery law violations in Brazil, China and India.

The bribery allegations were first reported by the New York Times. Last month, the paper published another story focusing on how Wal-Mart's Mexico division offered large payoffs to get things that the law prohibited.

The story focused on how Wal-Mart paid $52,000 to secure approval to build its store in Teotihuacan on the site of ancient ruins. Although local zoning would have prohibited Wal-Mart from building its store, the Times reported that the company allegedly bribed local officials to have that map redrawn.

In the article, Wal-Mart spokesman Dave Tovar denied that executives in the U.S. knew anything about the alleged corruption involving construction of the store in Teotihuacan. Buchanan, the Wal-Mart spokeswoman, said Tovar's comment in the New York Times article was focused on events in 2004.

The emails released Thursday include one from November 2005 from Maritza Munich, then general counsel of Wal-Mart International, to Duke and other senior Wal-Mart executives. The email informed them of charges related to bribes paid to obtain permits for a store in Mexico.

The email contained a forwarded summary of an interview with Sergio Cicero Zapata, the former in-house counsel for Wal-Mart de Mexico who oversaw obtaining building through permits throughout Mexico.

The lawmakers also made public another email that Wal-Mart general counsel Thomas Mars sent Oct. 15, 2005, to Duke and Tom Hyde, the executive vice president of Wal-Mart. That email referenced bribes paid to obtain permits for the Teotihuacan site.

"You'll want to read this. I'm available to discuss next steps," Mars wrote in the email.

Comments
Cities turn to private inspectors as construction booms, and problems follow

Cities turn to private inspectors as construction booms, and problems follow

ST. PETERSBURG — With construction booming throughout Florida, private inspectors are increasingly reviewing the work of building contractors. But that has sometimes led to missed code violations and other problems.Now the city of St. Petersburg is r...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Amazon raising price of annual Prime membership to $119

Amazon raising price of annual Prime membership to $119

NEW YORK — Amazon is raising the price of its annual Prime membership fee by 20 percent starting next month. The company said Thursday that Prime members in the U.S. will now pay $119 a year, up from $99, starting May 11 for new members. The new pric...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Almost half of all homes for sale in Tampa Bay are unaffordable for first-time buyers

Almost half of all homes for sale in Tampa Bay are unaffordable for first-time buyers

Times Staff WriterAlmost half of all homes on the market in the Tampa Bay area are unaffordable for many buyers. According to Zillow, 48.7 percent of homes for sale are "high-end --- more than $348,0000 in Tampa Bay -- while just 20.5 percent are "l...
Updated: 12 hours ago
Outback Steakhouse owner Bloomin’ Brands beats Wall Street forecast in first quarter

Outback Steakhouse owner Bloomin’ Brands beats Wall Street forecast in first quarter

TAMPA — Growing sales at Outback Steakhouse have once again led parent company Bloomin’ Brands to beat Wall Street’s expectations, the latest quarterly report shows.But the Tampa-based restaurant group’s other chains are failing to keep up. Bloomin’ ...
Published: 04/26/18
Focus crossover and Mustang will be only Ford sedans sold in North American dealerships

Focus crossover and Mustang will be only Ford sedans sold in North American dealerships

DEARBORN, Mich. — Ford Motor Co. said Wednesday it will shed most of its North American car lineup as part of broad plan to save money and make the company more competitive in a fast-changing marketplace.The changes include getting rid of all cars in...
Published: 04/26/18
Domino’s lifts curtain on ‘pizza theater’ in Lutz

Domino’s lifts curtain on ‘pizza theater’ in Lutz

LUTZ — Domino’s new ‘pizza theater’ store recently opened in Lutz, just outside of the Ballantrae subdivision. The store features the open-concept pizza theater design which offers viewing of the food preparation process.There is also a comfortable l...
Published: 04/26/18
Engaged couple opens chiropractic practice for all ages on W Hillsborough Ave

Engaged couple opens chiropractic practice for all ages on W Hillsborough Ave

TAMPA — Dr. Kaylee Canalungo and Dr. Kace Groff were attending Palmer College of Chiropractic in different states when a mutual friend introduced them. After graduating and working together at a chiropractic office in New York, they are engaged to be...
Published: 04/26/18

Clean Juice gets 3rd spot in Hyde Park Village

Michelle Piniella forecast about another South Tampa Clean Juice location in March, and now it’s official. The healthy, fresh juice concept has secured a lease with Hyde Park Village.The opening date is to be announced this summer as it is currently ...
Published: 04/26/18
Cuban cuisine transformed at Armature Works

Cuban cuisine transformed at Armature Works

DOWNTOWN — Felicia Lacalle says cuban cooking is in her blood as she traditionally learned from her mother growing up. Since then she has perfected her craft finding ways to recreate classic dishes with a modern twist and now she aims to change the C...
Published: 04/26/18
PolitiFact: False claim circulates about Allegiant Air offering 2 free tickets

PolitiFact: False claim circulates about Allegiant Air offering 2 free tickets

The statement"Allegiant Air is rewarding everyone with 2 free plane tickets to celebrate April Aviation Week!"Bloggers, April 22 in a blog postThe rulingContrary to a false claim on a phony website, Allegiant Air is not offering two free tickets in e...
Updated: 4 hours ago