The big problem here is not so much the actual bribery, but the cover up by top executives at HQ
in Bentonville, AR
, USA for years of the Mexico subsidiary either allowed or intentionally ignored. Often the crime is bad enough, but it is the cover up that gets you nailed and in jail.
Apparently the bribes were paid to secure permits for store sites, probably to local and state government officials who have the power over granting them, to choose Walmart vs. a Mexico or elsewhere based competitor, get water, sewer access. The bribes could have been paid to keep out workers unions or buy peace from local police from the police themselves. The Mexico ops of Walmart is huge, including about 20% of the stores Walmart has, so $20+ million could be a relative tiny investment that means billions in profits to shareholders, bigger paychecks for executives in Mexico and the USA.
I wonder if this has come out because of the various lawsuits against Walmart in the USA for labor violations and emplolyment discrimiination as well as growing anti-Walmart attitudes by labor and social groups trying to get something on them and finally got a big one. Perhaps too some executive or ex-executive are spilling the story out, trying to cover their butt by making a deal for these crimes to stay out of jail. There may have been a US DOJ investigation already or if not, one will be starting very soon.