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EY US accused by investors of knowing about Wal-Mart Mexico bribery scandal

Some investors of retail giant Wal-Mart Stores have accused EY in the US of having been aware of alleged bribery cases in the store's Mexico operations.

The accuser is union pension funds advisor CtW Investment Group, whose members hold around 0.15% of shares in the multinational currently under investigation by US authorities.

In a letter on 21 May, CtW Investment Group called upon the US's Public Company Accounting Board (PCAOB) to open an investigation into Wal-Mart's audits by EY since 2006.

It stated: "This request is motivated by publicly-available information indicating that EY's conduct of these engagements may have violated PCAOB rules and auditing standards."

According to the letter, an internal Wal-Mart memo released during the course of shareholder litigation shows that EY was informed by the American multinational's internal audit services unit that a whistleblower had provided evidence of the Mexico bribery scheme.

"E&Y was briefed by IAS over the course of the company's internal investigation from late 2005 through early 2006," it reads.

In November 2011, Wal-Mart reported possible violations in Mexico to the US Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

In 2012, an article in the The New York Times alleged senior officials at the US multinational routinely paid Mexican government officials to accelerate the opening of new outlets during the early 2000s.

According to the article, an internal investigation found evidence of the alleged bribery, but Wal-Mart leadership declined to extend the investigation and instead, it is alleged, covered it up.

The PCAOB and EY were unavailable for comment.

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