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Reuters reports this morning that Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Maryland), ranking member of the House of Representatives Oversight Committee, and Rep. Henry Waxman (D-California), ranking member of the House Energy Committee, have sent a letter to Walmart CEO saying that "they have obtained new internal records that may point to evidence of tax evasion and money laundering."

According to the story, the letter says, in part: "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."

The Congressmen launched their own investigation earlier this year after the New York Times published a lengthy report detailing what it said was systemic and systematic bribery of local officials in Mexico as Walmart worked to expand its footprint and sales there. Yesterday, both Waxman and Cummings said that Walmart had not cooperated with their review, though Walmart is said to be conducting its own probe while cooperating with both the US Department of Justice and the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Brooke Buchanan, a Walmart spokesperson, respond to the letter by saying that the company is still conducting a "thorough and independent investigation into allegations relating to corporate conduct."
KC's View:
This was entirely predictable, because it always seemed unlikely that, if the original accusations were true, Walmart only threw a little money around south of the border to expedite legal matters like building permits. If nothing else, people who know about such things were suggesting that Walmart would likely face some accounting questions, because it is unlikely that the word "bribes" was going to show up in its ledgers.

Again, it remains possible that Walmart will be able to explain away any issues and get away with a slap on the wrist. But maybe not.

"Follow the money," Deep Throat says to Bob Woodward in All The President's Men. Let's see where it leads...