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Wal-Mart discloses internal investigation

BENTONVILLE, Ark. — Wal-Mart has opened an internal investigation to determine whether its overseas operations have complied with U.S. federal law as it pertains to permitting, licensing and inspections.

The Bentonville, Ark., retailer offered few details about the investigation in a quarterly report filed Thursday with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The company said that it opened the investigation after reviewing policies, procedures and internal controls tied to its global anti-corruption program. It said that it is taking “appropriate remedial measures.”

“We are taking a deep look at our policies and procedures in every country in which we operate,” said Wal-Mart spokesman Dave Tovar in an email. “As a result of information obtained during that review and from other sources, we have begun an internal investigation related to compliance with the” Foreign Corrupt Practice Act.

All companies doing business overseas must comply with the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which broadly deals with bribery and accounting rules.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has hired outside lawyers and other advisers and has notified the U.S. Department of Justice and Securities and Exchange Commission.

“Our investigation is currently focused on discrete incidents in specific areas,” Tovar said. “We intend to keep federal authorities apprised of what we learn.”

The issue will not have a material impact on business, the company said. The world’s largest retailer — which operates in 28 countries, including China, Mexico and Japan — brought in $419 billion in revenue last year.

Company shares rose 40 cents to $58.38 in morning trading.