Wal-Mart has been hit by allegations of attempting to cover up a bribery campaign by executives in Mexico to drive its rapid expansion in the country.
The world's biggest retailer by sales, sought to project Mexico as one of its best performing markets, saying it was ''deeply concerned'' by the allegations the New York Times had leveled about events that happened over six years ago
According to the newspaper, executives at Walmart Mexico paid bribes to obtain permits for new stores and even after investigators found evidence of wrongdoing, it was not followed up and the matter was swept under the carpet.
Wal-Mart said on Saturday, ''If these allegations are true, it is not a reflection of who we are or what we stand for. We are deeply concerned by these allegations and are working aggressively to determine what happened.''
According to analysts the allegations would come as a blow to the retailer, which is relying on emerging markets to keep sales growing. Mexico, which was the retailer's first overseas foray in 1991, has emerged as its most successful with 2,088 stores and sales of 379 billion pesos ($29bn) last year.
Wal-Mart had disclosed last December that it had launched a probe into whether some employees in its international business had fallen foul of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, the US's anti-bribery law.