(Mike Luckovich via GoComics.com)
Could not happen to a more deserving bunch of thieves and miscreants:
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT) is the subject of a U.S. Justice Department criminal investigation into allegations of bribery in its Mexican subsidiary, according to a person familiar with the probe.
The Justice Department is investigating potential criminal charges under the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, according to the person familiar with the probe who wasn’t authorized to speak publicly about it. Wal-Mart is conducting its own review of allegations that its representatives paid local officials in Mexico to get stores opened faster in the early 2000s…
Wal-Mart de Mexico, which is 69 percent owned by Wal-Mart Stores Inc., fell 12 percent yesterday to 37.89 pesos in Mexico City, the biggest decline since May 4, 1998. The parent company’s shares slid 4.7 percent to $59.54 at the close in New York, the biggest drop since Aug. 10….
Settlements involving the corrupt practices act are typically 1 percent to 2 percent of sales, and that would be about $4.5 billion per 1 percentage point of sales for Wal-Mart, Carroll said. FCPA investigations take 2 years to 6 years to settle, he said. The largest such settlement ever was $1.6 billion paid by Siemens AG (SIE) in 2008, he said…
Two top Democrats on congressional panels yesterday moved to start a probe and request a meeting with Wal-Mart executives.
The Times report “raises serious questions about potential violations of United States law” and “about the actions of top company officials in the United States who reportedly tried to disregard substantial evidence of abuse,” Representatives Elijah Cummings of Maryland and Henry Waxman of California, wrote in a letter to Duke…
[Via Felix Salmon.]
The Wal-Mart “miracle” has always relied on a three-legged stool of corrupt practice: Pressuring or bribing local politicians into providing regulatory & tax breaks that would allow Wal-Mart to undercut local businesses and shove employee expenses onto the government; forcing Wal-mart suppliers to constantly reduce their costs-per-item, no matter what this did to the quality of the product or the long-term health of the vendor/manufacturer; and keeping its employees underpaid, overworked, and non-unionized. It’s not a coincidence that Wal-mart got its start in Arkansas, or that it’s always done best in communities — American or overseas — where a handful of rich families have effective control over their local economies / politics. Banana Republicans thrive where the “low information voters” live under social rules not much different than those of a medieval barony, as long as the local peasantry can still consider itself superior to the neighborhood non-whites/immigrants/outcastes. Not hyperbole: Either Wal-Mart “wins”, or our democracy does… and, to be honest, Wal-Mart’s such a social parasite I doubt it would survive long if it succeeded.
Just Some Fuckhead
Imagine the power we could generate if we could figure out how to harness Sam spinning in his grave.
Is that a legal “brief” above the lawyer’s head?
With corporations now having the same rights as citizens, who is going to jail? Yeah, right.
@Just Some Fuckhead:
Wonder how high his rpm goes.
One of the most interesting discussions I ever had teaching development economics had to do with this very topic. And how European countries for the longest time used to apply tax breaks for bribes corporations used to get business in developing nations. It is actually pretty incredible the anti corruption practices act passed so early in this country. Today? I am sure we would be told is good for business not to ‘regulate’ that.
Check out what TBogg has to say about this
Why doesn’t the DOJ just break up Wal-Mart for massive antitrust violations? And break up Comcast? And break up the four big movie studios/book publishers/record companies/DVD hardware manufacturers (they’re all the same vertically oriented monopoly now)? And break up the baby bells? And break up Microsoft? And break up Oracle? And break up Sprint? And break up…?
When will they admit the fact that impoverished, sickly slaves won’t make them rich via mostly wasteful consumer spending?
Christ, it’s not like Henry Ford was a flaming liberal.
Nothing but a shake down by doj for election money after that Nov. it all goes bye-bye.
Microsoft lost the case against it by the US. The Bush Admin didn’t make them unbundle IE from the OS.
@jo6pac: That doesn’t even make enough sense to be stupid.
Butch Cassidy: What’s the matter with you?
Sundance Kid: I can’t compete with WalMart.
Butch Cassidy: Are you crazy? Amazon will probably kill you.
WalMart at least employs people, but Cole, like most people here, gleefully shop at and support Amazon who won’t even pay sales tax. Wrong priorities.
And you’ve heard that the corrupt Wal-Mart executive is in a partnership with one of Romney’s sons, right?
Chris Ethridge died.
Hot Burrito #1 (I’m Your Toy)
“You may be sweet and nice
but that won’t keep you warm at night
’cause I’m the one who showed you how
to do the things you’re doing now
He may feel all your charms
He may hold you in his arms
but I’m the one who let you in
I was right beside you then”
@Martin: Amazon employs a lot of people here in Seattle.
I could eat alphabet soup and shit out a more cogent argument.
of course, they are crooked.
@MikeJ: Amazon has 56,000 employees, plus tens of thousands more employed through distribution facilities who they intend to replace – none of which are local to the communities they generates their sales from.
WalMart employs 2.2 million, or 40x as many. Hell, even Apple employs around 40,000 local retail workers.
Look, I’m not here to defend WalMart, but 15% of jobs in this country are retail – more than manufacturing – and Amazon is wiping those retail jobs way faster than the Chinese are wiping out manufacturing.
Ben Cisco (onboard the Defiant)
Well, the NeoConfederate candidates for Congress are running their ads. You’ll no doubt be shocked to find out that their main points are: I’m more conservative than the other guy and President Obama has failed us. I’m stunned that they were that polite.
Aux armes, citoyens!
@Valdivia: Correct. As a development economist myself, there was this window, post-Watergate (the Foreign and Corrupt Practices Act was passed in 1978) when Democrats could legislate best practice internationally. We have since become a vastly more right-wing political environment where fraud and corruption is just fine with the GOP (it’s market economics to them) and very little important international legislation can get passed when the Congress is institutionally anti-foreign everything. It hasn’t helped that Blue Dog Democrats have allied with the GOP reactionaries to make U.S. foreign policy ever more regressive, which perversely benefits us not at all.
@Just Some Fuckhead: I work at a Sam’s Club and I’m nauseated whenever someone says “If Sam was alive, he wouldn’t stand for this,” whatever crime “this” represents. Sam was an authoritarian asshole who realized that poorly educated, Southern rural workers could be profitably exploited by playing to their ignorance, distrust of citified Yankee unions, and lack of other employment opportunities in their home towns. Fuck him and his family and followers.
@brettvk: This. Sam is the paterfamilas of the whole shebang.
Also, WaPo just emailed about Walmart’s high pressure campaign to overturn the anti-bribery law they’re accused of violating.
it was actually one of the things that I would point to to my students to show, look at what can be done to prevent this kind of corruption. Sad that could never ever be passed these days. It makes me a little despondent.
And when will the “liberal media” investigate Taggart M. Romney’s business partnership with Wal-Mart’s bag man?
@brettvk: They’re still saying that sh!t? I worked there 18 years ago and the Cult of Sam was in full effect then. ‘He drove a truck! He had a hunting dog!’
I failed Wal-Mart’s psychological profile and was deemed a ‘marginal threat to theft’. Proudest day of my working life.
I guess Tagg Romney must be Mitt’s equivalent of Neil Bush.
Forget the corporation issue – four of the fifteen richest people in America have the last name Walton. Does anybody really think anyone is going to suffer any meaningful pain over this, much less go to jail? They could fine WalMart ten million and it would amount to a rounding error, and that’s about all that will happen if indeed anything does.
I used to know a guy who grew up doing odd chores for the Waltons. He’d cut their yard, wash their cars, etc. He said that Sam only drove that pickup truck when he was making an appearance at a store, and drove the fanciest of cars all other times.
This guy also told stories of when he and a buddy worked at a Wal-mart, and his buddy was promoted to a shift supervisor postion. The company forbade the buddy from inviting the guy I knew to any more weekly BBQs because it was unseemly for managent to rub elbows with the floor workers.
Wal-Mart may allow people to buy stuff they couldn’t afford otherwise, but it does so in a way that makes the surrounding community so much poorer.
Being accused of violating the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act is actually a pretty big deal. The Giant Evil Corporation I work for makes all of us do a little online course in Things That Will Get You Fired, and violating the FCP is one of the things specified by name.
Note that I am a mid-level secretary whose furthest business trip was up to the Bay Area, so my opportunities to violate said Act are pretty minimal. Still, I was given lots of details about what the Act is and why I shouldn’t bribe officials in other countries.
I’ve stopped buying anything from Amazon. It’s not just the lack of sales tax, it’s the HORRENDOUS working conditions in the warehouses.
Are “Settlements” the new “Convictions” in the Corporate World’s Rule Of Law? I know organized crime looks at prison terms as a price of doing business, but I doubt legitimate businesses do.
The Moral Hazard is that if we give them a pass on prison, we allow legitimate businesses to act like organized criminals.
Richard W. Crews
I don’t have the research capabilities, but :
– isn’t the Wal-Mart Mexico guy now in business with one of Romney’s sons? The illegal guy?
– If Romney’s grandfather ‘escaped’ to Mexico, are the descendents USA citizens? Is Mitt legal? Seriously, an anchor baby when they snuk (sneakeded) back?
– Why no big deal about a WET dog, a hosed down dog is being even more mistreated?
– didn’t I read that the son recalling the story said the dog ran away? Really? Can’t find again.
– can we change the word ‘regulations’ into ‘standards’ and see how they’re received?
I dunno’ I just want to fight at all levels. With the hard cold truth, of course.
Short Bus Bully
Christ on a crotchrocket Anne Laurie, that one paragraph takedown of Wal-Mart was the most complete, thorough, and kick ass defenestration of the evils of multi-nationalism that I have ever read.
I don’t buy from Wal-Mart, ever, but it’s not just that they are corporate scum. So is Amazon, for that matter.
But Wal-Mart merchandise is one step up from a hallucinatory fever dream; and lasts about as long. Everything in Wal-Mart is either the product of ruthless cost cutting that forces the manufacturer to turn out all their stuff as a shadow of an actual product; or just their Wal-Mart stuff that way.
I seem to be constantly “therapizing” Wal-Mart addicts in my little town. They complain that Wal-Mart is an hour away; I explain that if Wal-Mart set up shop here, they would drive out the competition and double their prices; it’s their corporate practice. They wail that they have to get to Wal-Mart so often because the coffee pot is always breaking or the polo shirt dissolved in the wash. I explain that if they didn’t buy these things from Wal-Mart, they would last a lot longer. But then they give me the white-rimmed eyes and tell me the prices are so low at Wal-Mart!
There’s a reason no one teaches economics in high school; it would ruin their plutocrat schemes.
If I can’t get it at our local community store (formed in response to a successful local drive to keep Wal-Mart out) I do buy it from someplace like Amazon. They sell actual products; and while they do have a horrible warehouse setup, so does everyone else. Amazon offers authors a better deal than they get from today’s publishers, who specialize in celebrity tell alls and don’t even copy edit for the money any more.
I could drive 2-3 hours to the nearest Costco; if I had the money for the trip and the money to buy enough to make the trip worthwhile. But I don’t have any money.
So I regard Amazon as the lesser of two evils.
With you on this. I don’t shop at Walmart, but I do shop at Amazon. I would like to see Amazon collect sales tax, based on the shipping address. It would be trivially easy to implement. Not politically easy, of course.
I don’t shop at Wal-Mart either. I keep telling people that I can’t afford to shop at Wal-Mart; if I buy something, I want it to last longer than the first couple of times I use it. Interestingly, I do have some stuff I bought at Wal-Mart over ten years ago, before I really knew how evil they were (and when they were just moving into Canada), and that stuff has held up pretty well.
I am sad that they have ruined Rubbermaid (I live and die by their 40-gallon totes) and various other of their suppliers for everyone else, especially.