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Wal-Mart denies bribery law lobbying

By Guy Adams in Los Angeles

Lobbyists for Wal-Mart have been accused of attempting to dismantle America's strict anti-bribery regulations, at the same time as the company found itself being investigated for major violations of those laws during its expansion into Mexico.

The world's largest retailer claimed yesterday that it "never lobbied" politicians to soften the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which forbids US firms from paying bribes overseas, despite the ongoing presence of its representatives on the boards of Washington-based organisations hostile to the law.

Both the Retail Industry Leaders Association and the US Chamber Institute for Legal Reform, which count Wal-Mart as a major member, have quietly campaigned against the anti-bribery laws for several years, arguing they are vaguely crafted and limit the ability of US firms to expand into foreign markets.

Their lobbying has taken place at the same time as Wal-Mart, which owns the UK supermarket chain Asda, has attempted to hush-up its discovery that a subsidiary, Wal-Mex, had paid tens of millions of dollars to corrupt officials to secure planning permits in Mexico.

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