After five years of investigation, the Walmart bribery scandal is nearing a climactic end. The multinational company could be facing an absurd fine.
The multinational American retailer is primed to pay US authorities up to $300mn (£231mn) in penalties.
It faces allegations of bribery regarding its businesses in China, Mexico, and India.
However, as one of the most profitable retail companies in the world, Walmart could easily pay the staggering amount.
Walmart’s projected fee in fines has continually changed throughout the course of the investigation. Yet, what does all of this mean now? Let’s start from the beginning.
When did the Walmart bribery scandal begin?
Authorities busted the purveyor of consumer goods in 2012 over its Walmart de Mexico business. One-fifth of the company’s stores reside in Mexico.
As with most juicy corporate scandals, high ranking company officials made up the guilty parties.
The cause of the bribes involved senior management paying the Mexican government for building permission.
However, these allowances came at the cost of skipping over Mexico’s commercial real estate laws and regulations.
Furthermore, bribes totalled up to $24mn ($18.5).
Yet, why stop there?
To hide these numbers from global headquarters in Arkansas, senior management labelled them as legal fees. Thus, they also committed accounting fraud.
Sorry, wrong number
Throughout the course of the investigation, authorities have issued fines of various amounts to Walmart.
At the onset of the investigation, initial projections neared $1bn (£770mn).
However, the figure dwindled to $600mn (£463mn) in 2016.
Due to a major concession by the US government, Walmart’s fine is currently at a comparatively meagre $300mn (£231mn).
Pundits believe that these numbers indicate little evidence supporting the initial 2012 allegations. However, they also credit the figures as representing Walmart’s skills in covering up the scandal.
Yet, the Walmart bribery scandal has forced the company to pay more in reforms and overhauls than the present fine.
According to experts, it has shelled out $800mn (£618mn) on the investigation.
Furthermore, it has changed its CEO, CFO, and heads of its US and international businesses.
While the current penalty fee is still under negotiation, Walmart as a company may not be prosecuted. Rather, it could face corporate monitoring as one of its subsidiaries pleads guilty.