exico said Wednesday it has opened a probe into the operating procedures of Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, after allegations that its managers bribed officials.
The New York Times reported Saturday that the retail giant's largest non-US subsidiary made illicit payments to win market dominance and tried to cover them up.
"A check has started into the federal permits and procedures taken by this company (Wal-Mart de Mexico or Walmex) to open and operate its shops in our country," the Ministry of Public Service (SFP) said in a statement.
"If evidence is found of the possible responsibility of local officials, the SFP will communicate it to the competent authorities."
It said it would also seek information from US authorities on the case.
Wal-Mart was not immediately available for comment.
The Wal-Mart Stores vice chairman, Eduardo Castro-Wright, resigned Tuesday from his position on the boards of insurers MetLife, Inc and Metropolitan Life Insurance Company.
The New York Times reported that Castro-Wright oversaw Wal-Mart's rapid expansion of its Mexico operations in the early 2000s, when the company allegedly shelled out $24 million in bribes to Mexican officials.
The report suggested that Wal-Mart had violated both Mexican and US laws, including the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which aims at curbing US corporate misbehavior abroad.
It also said the bribery was known by top executives at Wal-Mart's Arkansas headquarters who allegedly quashed an internal investigation.
Wal-Mart downplayed the Times allegations about the scandal as "more than six years old."
Wal-Mart shares, which sunk 12.01 and 4.43 percent on the Mexican stock exchange on Monday and Tuesday, rose 3.70 percent at closing Wednesday.