Mexican firms were perceived to be the third
The New York Times reported thisgucci handbags weekend that Wal-Mart Stores Inc investigators probing its Mexican operations found a paper trail of hundreds of suspect payments worth more than $24 million made to grow its business there, and that the company then quashed the investigation. Wal-Mart said it was "deeply concerned" about the allegations, which have lifted the lid on a culture of corruption in Mexico that many of its residents take for granted. One global study said Mexican firms were perceived to be the third most likely behind those in China and Russia to pay bribes abroad. When 40-year-old market stall owner Adrian Martinez decided to open a second spot to sell his wares in Mexico City, he said he figured it was better to pay a bribe to a "gestor", or intermediary, to get a permit than wait for authorities to process his request. Martinez paid the equivalent of several hundred dollars for the permit, a fraction of the sum the New York Times said Wal-Mart de Mexico - the country's top retailer - had given to middlemen to help it get permits to build and open new gucci shirts stores. "I greased his palm," said Martinez, who said he earns about 400 pesos ($30) a day selling clothes and cosmetics. "Lots of others do the same here. If you want to do things by the book, you'll be waiting a long time." According to the New York Times, Wal-Mart came to the same conclusion as it rapidly expanded its business from an initial joint venture in 1991 to becoming Mexico's top retailer and biggest private employer, with a network of more than 2,000 stores and restaurants. "This is really no surprise to Mexicans," said John Ackerman, a legal expert at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM). "It's a surprise that it's so well documented, but it's no surprise to read this story about Wal-Mart." Paying bribes has a long tradition in Mexico dating back to the colonial era, and Wal-Mart is not the first company to come under scrutiny for allegations of illicit payments. In May 2011, a U.S. court handed down guilty verdicts against executives at a California company who were behind a cash-for-contracts scheme gucci bags involving Mexico's Federal Electricity Commission, a utility known as CFE. The temptation to skirt red tape in Mexico has been encouraged over time by a weak justice system and the relatively low salaries of many lower-level public sector workers. Mexican police often earn well below $1,000 a month.