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Wal-Mart: Mexico unit faces probe for alleged tax evasion, money laundering

GUADALAJARA, Mexico – Shares in the Mexican subsidiary of Wal-Mart Stores Inc fell more than five percent today after two US Congressman investigating bribery allegations against Mexico’s biggest retailer said they had evidence pointing to tax evasion and money laundering, the Associated Press reported.

“We have obtained internal company documents, including internal audit reports, from other sources suggesting that Wal-Mart may have had compliance issues relating not only to bribery, but also to ‘questionable financial behavior’ including tax evasion and money laundering in Mexico,” House Democrats Elijah Cummings and Henry Waxman wrote in the letter to Wal-Mart Stores chief executive Michael Duke.

Authorities in the United States and Mexico are investigating allegations that Walmex, as the company is known in Mexico, paid bribes to local officials to fast track the opening of stores in Latin America’s second largest economy.

Cummings and Waxman, who are part of the congressional investigation, also criticized Wal-Mart for hindering the probe by failing to provide requested documents and blocking access to witnesses, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Walmex said it was not aware that it was being investigated for money laundering and tax evasion, Reuters reported, citing a statement issued by the company before the market opened today.

Shares in Walmex closed down 5.5 percent at 27.24 pesos ($2.07) a share on the Mexican stock exchange. The broader market finished higher.

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