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Entries in Mexico (4)

Tuesday
Apr242012

Wal-Mart Critics Pounce on Bribery Scandal

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Wal-Mart's critics say they are not surprised by charges that the giant retailer paid bribes in Mexico to get its way.  Some hope the Mexico scandal, which could wind up costing Wal-Mart billions in fines, will cause investigators to re-examine situations in the U.S. where payments or donations by Wal-Mart or its confederates preceded the company's getting permission to expand.

The New York Times reported that Wal-Mart's internal documents show that the company's Mexican subsidiary paid at least $24 million in bribes to Mexican officials to get permits needed for the company's rapid expansion there.  The Times also claims Wal-Mart squelched its own internal investigation of the bribes.

Wal-Mart is the biggest private employer in Mexico.  In size, its operations there are second only to its operations in the U.S.  One out of every five Wal-Mart stores worldwide is in Mexico.

The company's stock has fallen nearly 5 percent since the scandal broke.  The Department of Justice has reportedly launched a probe into the allegations.

What Bernard Sosnick, a stock analyst at Gilford Securities, calls the company's "new imbroglio" only confirms what many labor leaders and long-time critics say they have suspected all along: that Wal-Mart's rapacity knows no ethical restraint.  Wal-Mart's many critics are lining up to pile on to the company's woes.

"Am I surprised?  Of course not," says Al Norman, author of The Case Against Wal-Mart and of the forthcoming Occupy Wal-Mart.  He has been dubbed "the guru of the anti-Wal-Mart movement."

"The only thing that surprises me," he says, "is that here you get to see their fingerprints.  Usually, when money changes hands, you can't find the moment when it happened."

The company, he contends, has a long history of paying money to remove obstacles to its expansion.  He has compiled examples of what he deems as Wal-Mart-related briberies on his website, Sprawl-Busters.com.  The claims include situations where citizens testifying at public hearings have accepted cash in exchange for making pro-Wal-Mart statements.  In other cases, he claims, groups protesting Wal-Mart expansion have ceased to protest after accepting donations from the company or its partners.

Joseph Hansen, international president of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), says only two things surprise him about the Mexican revelations: First, the scope of the alleged bribery.  Second, "I thought they were smarter than that."

Hansen says that when he first learned of the allegations, "They raised question in my mind about stores approved in the U.S., where zoning laws changed quickly and permits were issued quickly. I  think we'll now see people go back and ask questions about that."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Mar072012

Forbes: Carlos Slim Is World's Richest Man Again

Susana Gonzalez/Bloomberg via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Mexico’s Carlos Slim Helu and family, with a net worth of $69 billion, again top Forbes’ listing of the world’s billionaires.

Slim’s self-made fortune comes from telecommunications. The 72-year-old is chairman of Mexico’s Telmex. His fortune is down $5 billion from last year, says Forbes, owing to a decline in the share price of America Movil, another telecom company that accounts for more than half of Slim’s net worth.

Bill Gates and Warren Buffett of the U.S., who respectively have $61 billion and $44 billion, are next on Forbes’ list. Gates’ fortune comes from Microsoft, the software giant that he founded. Buffett’s comes from investment giant Berkshire Hathaway.

This year’s list netted more billionaires than ever before: 1,226 people worth a record $4.6 trillion collectively.

Berhard Arnault of France, owner of luxury goods maker LVMH, is fourth-richest, with $41 billion, followed by Spaniard Amancio Ortega ($37.5 billion). American Larry Ellison, head of Oracle corporation, ranks sixth ($36 billion).

The richest newcomer is Colombia’s Alejandro Santo Domingo Davila, described by Forbes as a 35-year-old bachelor living in New York City, who took over his father’s beer empire after his October 2011 death. His wealth is $9.5 billion.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jul062011

US and Mexico End Decades-Long Trucking Dispute, Boost Trade

Digital Vision/Thinkstock(MEXICO CITY) -- The United States and Mexico reached an agreement Wednesday to end a ban on Mexican trucks entering the U.S., which lasted nearly two decades.  Putting an end to the measure will cut punitive tariffs by half within the next 10 days and remove the rest on about $2.4 billion worth of U.S. products by the end of this summer, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and Mexican Communications and Transportation Minister Dionisio Perez-Jacome signed the agreement in Mexico City Wednesday.  LaHood's outlook on trade was a positive one.

"The agreements signed today are a win for roadway safety and they are a win for trade," he said in a statement Wednesday.

The expectation is that road safety will improve under the terms of the agreement.  The pact requires that Mexican trucks carry monitoring systems that will track hours of service and routes; drivers partake in tests of their ability to read and understand English and U.S. traffic signs; drivers take drug test on a regular basis and that they allow for reviews of driving records.  U.S. drivers and trucks will comply under the same terms in Mexico.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Wednesday lauded the agreement to end the ban and boost exports to Mexico.

"This is a vital step toward a more efficient U.S.-Mexico border," said Chamber president and CEO, Thomas J. Donahue.  "We urge Congress to support this agreement and let this dispute be brought to an end."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Oct292010

Mexico Deports Ohio Fraudster

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(COLUMBUS, Ohio) -- Mexican authorities this week deported an Ohio woman convicted in Columbus in a $1.9 billion corporate fraud case that involved wire fraud and securities fraud.  Rebecca Parrett had been living at a central Mexican resort town for more than 2 years after her 2008 conviction.

Married six times, Parrett left behind her sixth husband, her son from her first marriage and grandchildren. Her husband, Gary Green, and son, Robert Parrett, could not be reached for comment. 

Parratt was the only person to flee her conviction despite being a co-defendant with her former husband, Donald Ayers, and several other executives of a company she co-founded, National Century Financial Enterprises, in Columbus. National Century was supposed to pay medical companies for future insurance bills and claims to be re-sold as bonds.  That didn't happen and authorities say it evolved into a massive Ponzi-like scheme.

Parrett claimed she never did any of the things she was convicted of. 

On Wednesday, Parrett waived her right to a detention hearing. The judge ordered that Parrett be detained and transferred back to Columbus.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio