NEW YORK — Walmart Stores Inc.'s 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 Walmart that executives weren't aware of bribes being made by the company.
Democratic Reps. Elijah E. Cummings and Henry A. Waxman, who are looking into bribery charges at Walmart's Mexico division, Thursday released emails indicating that Duke and other senior Walmart officials were informed multiple times starting in 2005 about bribes. 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 Walmart 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 Walmart spokeswoman, said Thursday the Waxman-Cummings “leaves the wrong impression that our public statements are contradicted by the information they released today.”
Allegations surfaced in April that Walmart 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. Walmart has been working with U.S. and Mexican government officials on the investigation.
The company has been conducting an internal investigation into the matter. And last November, the retailer said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that it was looking into potential U.S. bribery law violations in Brazil, China and India.
Thursday, Walmart said that it has been providing information to the Department of Justice Department and the SEC, including the documents that were released by lawmakers Thursday. Walmart also said it is exploring other ways to make additional information available