WASHINGTON — Wal-Mart CEO Mike Duke was told as early as 2005 that the retail giant’s Mexican subsidiary was paying bribes, according to Democratic lawmakers investigating the scandal.
U.S. Reps. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., and Henry Waxman, D-Calif., released documents Thursday they say show Duke had "specific knowledge" years ago of bribery allegations associated with construction of a company store in Teotihuacan, Mexico.
The documents, they said, contradict the company’s claim that senior executives had no knowledge of the bribery allegations described in a New York Times article published last month.
"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," Cummings and Waxman wrote Thursday in a letter to Duke.
Wal-Mart spokeswoman Brooke Buchanan said the documents do not contradict the company’s earlier statements.
"The fact is, the chronology of events relied upon in their (Waxman and Cummings) letter is inaccurate. The company statement referenced in their letter that appeared in the December 2012 New York Times story focused on events in 2004. The emails attached to the letter were sent almost a year later," Buchanan said.
The two lawmakers launched an investigation last April after the New York Times first reported that Wal-Mart executives had hushed up a vast bribery case involving its subsidiary in Mexico.
The New York Times followed up in December with an investigation that portrays Wal-Mart de Mexico as an "aggressive and creative corrupter, offering large payoffs to get what the law otherwise prohibited."
Waxman and Cummings have complained that the Bentonville-based retail giant has not fully cooperated with their investigation. They have once again asked Wal-Mart to make Maritza Munich, former general counsel of Wal-Mart International, available for questioning.
Buchanan said the company would do whatever it can to address the requests made by the lawmakers consistent with maintaining the integrity of ongoing investigations by the U.S. Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission.
"We want to provide members of Congress with whatever appropriate information we can to help them and we have already provided committee staff with multiple briefings," she said.
Wal-Mart has also been conducting its own internal investigation of potential violations of the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, Buchanan said.