Mexico Wal-Mart bribery probe yields no evidence yet: watchdog

MEXICO CITY Sat Nov 24, 2012 4:46am IST

Shoppers cart their purchases from a Wal-Mart store in Mexico City, April 24, 2012. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido

Shoppers cart their purchases from a Wal-Mart store in Mexico City, April 24, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Edgard Garrido

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MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico's anti-corruption body has found no irregularities in its probe of permits and documents given to retailer Wal-Mart to open stores, but two audits remain underway, the agency's chief said on Friday.

The Federal Comptroller's office opened the investigation into the company's administrative procedures in April after the New York Times reported the company bribed local officials so it could open stores more rapidly in Mexico.

"We had to audit many ministries ... and so far we have not found anything that would be cause for a harsh opinion against Wal-Mart," Rafael Morgan, head of the Federal Comptroller's office, told reporters. "We don't have any case against Wal-Mart," he added, but offered no details of the two ongoing audits.

Wal-Mart de Mexico WALMEXV.MX, owned by Wal-Mart Stores Inc (WMT.N), scrapped plans to open around 100 new stores this year and announced it would lengthen the internal process for opening new stores. The Mexican government recently announced that Wal-Mart had complied with all the rules for obtaining permits for its stores.

The U.S. Justice Department has also opened an investigation into potential violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, a U.S. law that forbids bribery of foreign officials.

(Reporting by Veronica Gomez; Writing by Alexandra Alper. Editing by Andre Grenon)

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