Walmart (NYSE: WMT) and its subsidiary WMT Brasilia agreed to pay a combined criminal penalty of $137 million to settle investigations into its violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA).
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) alleged that Walmart violated the FCPA by failing to implement internal accounting controls to prevent corrupt practices by its foreign subsidiaries. Its Brazilian subsidiary pleaded guilty to violating the law.
According to the DOJ, Walmart fully cooperated with the government’s investigation into its subsidiaries in Brazil, China and India.
It cooperated with the probe in Mexico but failed to provide documents and information on time to the government. It also failed to de-conflict with the government’s request to interview one witness before conducting its own interview.
Under the three-year non-prosecution agreement, Walmart agreed to retain an independent compliance monitor for two years. The $137 million penalty included forfeiture of $3.6 million and a fine of $724,898 form WMT Brasilia.
Walmart turned a blind eye on its foreign subsidiaries’ corrupt practices
In a statement, Assistant Attorney General Benczkowski of the DOJ’s Criminal Division, said, “Walmart profited from rapid international expansion, but in doing so chose not to take necessary steps to avoid corruption.”
“In numerous instances, senior Walmart employees knew of failures of its anti-corruption-related internal controls involving foreign subsidiaries, and yet Walmart failed for years to implement sufficient controls comporting with U.S. criminal laws,” he added.
Furthermore, Benczkowski emphasized that the DOJ will continue its aggressive investigation and prosecution of foreign corruption.
On the other hand, FBI Assistant Director Robert Johnson commented that the bureau “will hold corporations responsible when they turn a blind eye to corruption.” He added, “If there is evidence of violations of FCPA, we will investigate. No corporation, no matter how large, is above the law.”
In a separate settlement agreement with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Walmart agreed to disgorge $144 million in profits.