Wal-Mart is coming under fire for allegedly "hushing up" a vast bribery campaign that allowed the corporation to rapidly expand in Mexico, after the New York Times published a detailed, explosive article on the topic.
According to the paper, a former Wal-Mart executive wrote that, "In its rush to build stores...the company had paid bribes to obtain permits in virtually every corner of the country."
The man reportedly gave names, dates, and bribe amounts-- and an internal Wal-Mart investigation allegedly found a paper trail that of numbered hundreds of "suspect payments" totaling more than $24 million.
However, the NYT reports that it was only after Wal-Mart got wind of the paper's own investigation that it informed the U.S. Justice Department in December 2011 that it had begun an internal investigation into possible violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
Under that law, it is illegal for U.S. corporations and their subsidiaries to bribe foreign officials.
"If these allegations are true, it is not a reflection of who we are or what we stand for," spokesman David Tovar said.
"We are deeply concerned...and are working aggressively to determine what happened," he continued, further noting that many of the "alleged activities" took place more than six years ago.
Wal-Mart de Mexico has expanded so rapidly that one in five Wal-Mart stores are now in Mexico. It has become the country's largest private employer, with roughly 209,000 employees.
While Wal-Mart officials have reiterated that they are looking into the matter with all the gravity the situation demands, critics of the store maintain that Wal-Mart will trample anyone for a profit.
"The high cost of a low price," according to a Facebook page dedicated entirely to "hating Wal-Mart."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.