Tangled Web of Corruption Debilitates Mexico

  • by (mexico city)
  • Friday, May 11, 2012
  • Inter Press Service

'We have the necessary legal instruments, but they are rarely used. More laws will not reduce the risk of corruption,' Eduardo Bojórquez, head of Transparencia Mexicana , the national chapter of the Berlin-based watchdog Transparency International, told IPS.

'We are concerned that there are companies that are larger and more powerful than many nation states, which confront governments at different levels of institutional development,' Bojórquez said. The most notorious recent scandal in Mexico involves U.S. retail giant Walmart , which has been under investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) since December 2011.

Walmart's Mexico branch was the subject of a report published in April by The New York Times, which alleged the company paid 24 million dollars in bribes to facilitate the construction of new stores, in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act . The report said that the company had engaged in widespread and systematic bribery in this country. But the Mexican Attorney-General's Office only opened an investigation after it was published.

Mexico has ratified the United Nations Convention against Corruption and the Inter-American Convention against Corruption, as well as the Organisation for Economic Co- operation and Development (OECD) Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions (Anti-Bribery Convention).

It is also a member of the U.N. Global Compact (UNGC), the world's largest corporate responsibility initiative. Launched in 2000, the UNGC has over 8,000 participants, most of them businesses, in more than 135 countries, and local networks in over 90 nations. The 10 universal principles it upholds relate to human rights, labour law, environmental standards and the fight against corruption.

The UNGC is a voluntary agreement which in Mexico has 302 members, counting companies, NGOs, foundations and academic institutions. 'It is important to use these mechanisms to expose human rights violations committed by companies, and to demonstrate that regulations need to be stricter,' Valeria Scorza, head of the Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Project (ProDESC), a Mexican NGO, told IPS.

But 'we criticise the lack of mechanisms to sanction member companies for non-compliance, or to secure reparations for damage. The principles should be reformulated to pack more punch, although this is a fairly difficult collective process and companies usually have no interest in it,' she said.

© Inter Press Service (2012) — All Rights ReservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service

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