Wal-Mart began an internal investigation within the last seven months to determine whether certain matters involving its overseas operations, including permitting, licensing and inspections, violated United States federal law.
Wal-Mart's investigation became public when it filed its third-quarter Securities and Exchange Commission report on Thursday, in a one-paragraph explanation that did not elaborate on many specifics of the investigation.
The company said that during the fiscal year 2012 -- which began in May -- it opened a voluntary internal review of policies, procedures and internal controls that pertain to its global anti-corruption compliance program. Information gathered from that voluntary review and from other sources led to an investigation of a larger scope, one that seeks to find whether some matters went against the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
Wal-Mart spokesman Dave Tovar did not respond to a request for comment. He did not offer many specifics, either, to The Associated Press.
We are taking a deep look at our policies and procedures in every country in which we operate, Tovar said. As a result of information obtained during that review and from other sources, we have begun an internal investigation related to compliance.
The act, according to the Dept. of Justice website, was enacted to prevent bribery between entities in the U.S. and foreign governments.
Tovar added that Wal-Mart's investigation dealt with discrete incidents in specific areas.
Wal-Mart said in the filing that it has notified the SEC and the U.S. Department of Justice of its investigation. It said it has sought advice from outside counsel to assist in the investigations.
Though Wal-Mart said in the filing that though its investigation is ongoing, the company noted that it did not expect to feel any financial or business effects from the fallout.
We cannot reasonably estimate the potential liability, if any, related to these matters, the filing read. However, based on the facts currently known, we do not believe that these matters will have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations or cash flows.
Wal-Mart touted its international sales in its November third-quarter earnings report. Net international sales increased 20 percent to $32.4 billion for the quarter.
Like the U.S., our international markets are ready for the upcoming holidays, Wal-Mart president and CEO Mike Duke said in November. We continue to see strong consumer demand in emerging markets.
Shares of Wal-Mart were up 31 cents to 58.29 as of 2:35 p.m. ET.