Wal-Mart Said Subject of U.S. Probe

Justice Department is investigating possible criminal charges related to allegations of bribery in Mexico, source says.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. 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.

Mexican Expansion

The expansion of Wal-Mart de Mexico, mainly in the last decade, left the world’s largest retailer with about 20 percent of its stores in Mexico, out of more than 10,000 worldwide. Bentonville, Arkansas-based Wal-Mart’s sales rose about 6 percent last year to $447 billion. Wal-Mart has more than doubled the number of stores in Mexico to 2,088 since 2008.

Congressional Scrutiny

Two top Democrats on congressional panels yesterday moved to start a probe and request a meeting with Wal-Mart executives.

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