Bribes? What bribes? Finance Minister Jose Antonio Meade said there wasn't enough information to launch an investigation, Attorney General Marisela Morales said her office didn't have jurisdiction, and the Economy Ministry said it was a state and local matter. Or as Mexican newspaper Reforma put it in an editorial, "the reaction among our authorities is: 'relaaaax.'" One obvious explanation is that, bribes or no bribes, Wal-Mart is Mexico's largest private employer, with 209,000 workers. It's a big part of that nation's economy, and government officials are either unwilling or unable to rock the boat. From the WSJ:
If an investigation is launched in Mexico, and Wal-Mart is found to have broken any laws, it is unlikely to lead to harsh sanctions, legal experts said. If the bribes were paid to local officials, then it will be up to individual states to launch a probe. Even then, the statute of limitations on the alleged crime may have passed, said Thomas Heather, a leading Mexican corporate lawyer. Mexico's legal system, which relies on formal, written documents instead of a jury system, could make it more difficult to prove allegations of bribery, especially if intermediaries were used, Mr. Heather said.
Truth be told, the Walmart scandal isn't that big a deal in Mexico because bribery is part of everyday life. In this case, the money is just better. From the NYT:
It is an article of faith here that the fastest way to resolve difficulties with a health inspector, traffic police officer or nettlesome ministry functionary is to pay a sum under the table. A baroque bureaucracy, something economists have long warned slows the potential for growth here, and low pay for public servants leads to peso-greased shortcuts for the simplest transactions. The bigger the project, experts say, the more palms that are likely to spread open.
Promised reforms in Mexico never seem to take root, with a justice system rife with impunity and botched and delayed investigations. On top of the business-related bribes are the drug-related ones, in which members of organized crime groups buy off police officers or politicians to look the other way. "We have good laws," Luis Carlos Ugalde, a Mexican political scientist, wrote in Nexos magazine last year, in a lengthy dissection of corruption in Mexico and impediments to cleaning it up. "But they do not have an effect on the real world of corruption."