The Wal-Martian Chronicles

Over the weekend David Barstow of the New York Times went BOOM on Wal-Mart for being a very naughty evil global retail hegemony and bribing their way into the hearts and minds of our brown neighbors to the south:

Wal-Mart dispatched investigators to Mexico City, and within days they unearthed evidence of widespread bribery. They found a paper trail of hundreds of suspect payments totaling more than $24 million. They also found documents showing that Wal-Mart de Mexico’s top executives not only knew about the payments, but had taken steps to conceal them from Wal-Mart’s headquarters in Bentonville, Ark. In a confidential report to his superiors, Wal-Mart’s lead investigator, a former F.B.I. special agent, summed up their initial findings this way: “There is reasonable suspicion to believe that Mexican and USA laws have been violated.”

The lead investigator recommended that Wal-Mart expand the investigation.

Instead, an examination by The New York Times found, Wal-Mart’s leaders shut it down.

Neither American nor Mexican law enforcement officials were notified. None of Wal-Mart de Mexico’s leaders were disciplined. Indeed, its chief executive, Eduardo Castro-Wright, identified by the former executive as the driving force behind years of bribery, was promoted to vice chairman of Wal-Mart in 2008. Until this article, the allegations and Wal-Mart’s investigation had never been publicly disclosed.

But The Times’s examination uncovered a prolonged struggle at the highest levels of Wal-Mart, a struggle that pitted the company’s much publicized commitment to the highest moral and ethical standards against its relentless pursuit of growth.


In one meeting where the bribery case was discussed, H. Lee Scott Jr., then Wal-Mart’s chief executive, rebuked internal investigators for being overly aggressive. [my emphasis.. you’ll see why later] Days later, records show, Wal-Mart’s top lawyer arranged to ship the internal investigators’ files on the case to Mexico City. Primary responsibility for the investigation was then given to the general counsel of Wal-Mart de Mexico — a remarkable choice since the same general counsel was alleged to have authorized bribes.

The general counsel promptly exonerated his fellow Wal-Mart de Mexico executives.

Since then Wal-Mart has been in damage control mode as they have watched their stock prices fall … just like their prices!:

Wal-Mart Stores Inc said on Tuesday it has appointed a global officer to oversee compliance with a U.S. law that forbids bribes to foreign officials as it grapples with a bribery scandal that has led to more than $10 billion being cut from its market value.

The move is one of the steps the world’s largest retailer has taken in the past year to manage issues related to the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), a 1970s law that forbids bribing foreign officials.

Wal-Mart shares closed 3 percent lower, adding to declines from Monday that wiped $10 billion from the company’s market value.

Wal-Mart spokesman David Tovar declined to say when the post was created or who was named to fill it. The person appointed will report to the general counsel for Wal-Mart’s international unit.

Well, that worked out so well before.

Moving further on down the journalism food chain, we find the Combat Journalists at the Washington Free Bacon straining and heaving and grunting and wheezing while trying to make this all about President Barack “I Blame” Obama under the headline; Buffett Call Pays Off (Mexicans).

Liberal billionaire Warren Buffett’s investment firm initiated a considerable stake in Wal-Mart as the retail company was engaged in “a campaign of bribery to win market dominance” in Mexico.

Berkshire Hathaway purchased nearly 19 million shares of Wal-Mart stock in the second and third quarters of 2005, right around the time that company officials first learned of massive bribery scandal in Mexico, according to a New York Times report published over the weekend.


As of Dec. 31, 2011, Buffett’s firm was the fourth-largest institutional investor in the company, owning close to 40 million shares worth more than $2.3 billion.

Buffett, a devout supporter of President Obama and the inspiration behind the so-called Buffett Rule to raise taxes on the super-wealthy, has a history of profiting from the administration’s policies.

Buffett has personally contributed $5,000 to Obama this election cycle, while Berkshire Hathaway has given $30,800 to the Democratic National Committee.

The Free Bacon’s point, and I believe they think they have one, is that Warren Buffett bought a whole bunch of Wal-Mart stock while Wal-Mart executives were double-secretly breaking a whole bunch of laws that has now resulted in a $10 billion loss in market value to say nothing about the ginormous fines that will inevitably face in both the United States and Mexico… and Warren Buffett did this  because … um …. Warren Buffett is really really shrewd that way. Also, Obama bad.

Well played, Bacon.

Slowly rising up from the depths of the journalistic ocean where the Free Bacon fights it out on a daily basis with its fellow bottom-feeders (the TuckerCarlsingPost and Andrew Breitbart’s Big Blocked Arteries) for the choicest muck through which to rake, Politico also plays Six Degrees of Wal-Mart Shame only this time it points towards The Man Who Would Save Us All… yeah, that guy – Mittens “Mitt” McMittenMitten:

A Democratic source emails with an interesting tidbit linking Romneyworld to the Wal-Mart coverup exposed by the New York Times.

Turns out, the former Wal-Mart CEO who helped shut down an investigation of bribery by store officials in Mexico is an operating partner at a private equity fund started by Mitt Romney, his eldest son and his campaign finance director.

H. Lee Scott Jr. became an operating partner at the Romney fund, Solamere Capital, eight months after he left Wal-Mart in 2009. Solamere’s partners and investors include major Romney campaign donors and staffers. Romney was a senior adviser and the first investor in the fund, putting up $10 million.

The Times reported that Scott rebuked internal investigators for being too agressive (sic) in uncovering bribery by store officials in Mexico. The investigators allegedly found credible evidence that some $24 million in bribes allowed the store to dominate the market in Mexico, but Scott and others hushed up the investigation until the Times disclosed it Sunday.

The link was first reported by the Boston Globe, where I did some extensive reporting on the $250 million private equity fund last fall. Romney resigned from his role in advising the fund when he announced his run for president, but his son and his campaign finance director, Spencer Zwick, remain managing partners. Scott is still an operating partner.


Whether the Obama campaign can successfully ding Romney through the link to the Wal-Mart scandal remains to be seen. There is no evidence that the Romney fund itself was involved in the coverup. But the link jibes with the campaign’s previous allegations that Romney was an unprincipled private equity executive.

The Romney campaign declined to comment.

We expect their comment to be: “Uh….um…. Obama eats dawg!… harharharhar. Dog! LOL!! High five! Awesome. Hehyeah. That’s funny.”

Because that’s all they’ve got lately.

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Yeah. Like I would tell you....