Walmart filed its latest quarterly report on Thursday, which triggers a reflex among anti-corruption enthusiasts: peeking at the latest amounts of money the retail giant has spent on its long-running probe into overseas bribery.
That investigation began in 2012, after a front-page story in the New York Times alleging widespread violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. The FCPA prohibits U.S. companies from bribing foreign government officials to win business, and violating the FCPA can be a big no-no—like, hundreds of millions in penalties big. Even for Walmart, that’s real money.
Ever since that NYT expose, Walmart has been investigating the scope of its FCPA misconduct and improving its corporate compliance function. It also has been in protracted negotiations with the Justice Department to settle the case, which remains unsettled to this day. And with every quarterly filing, Walmart reports how much it has spent trying to resolve the matter.
We give all this history to show how Calcbench users can easily find specific disclosures companies make along these lines. The Walmart example happens to involve the FCPA, but our databases can let you identify any litigation- or contingency-related disclosure with a few keystrokes.
For current filings, you can find all you need with our dashboard view. Just go to our home page, enter the company name or ticker symbol in the search box, and hit enter. You’ll see a result like Figure 1, below.
Under the “Disclosures” column in the middle, you can see all new disclosures made in the current period. Sure enough, if you look under Contingencies, you’ll find that Walmart disclosed the usual update about its FCPA probe, complete with spending numbers: $29 million this quarter, $82 million year to date.
But what if you want to know Walmart’s FCPA investigation expenses through time? Not much difficulty there either—just shift to our Footnotes Disclosure page, and you can find the historical data.
On that page, first be sure you’ve selected your desired company with the “Choose Companies” feature in the upper-left corner. (If you are looking at a filing in the dashboard view and then jump to the Footnotes page, we call up the footnotes for that same company be default.) Then look for the text search box on the right and enter your desired search term—in this case, “FCPA” since we’re looking at Walmart.
The results are below, in Figure 2: a table display of Walmart’s FCPA spending for the last three fiscal years, 2014-2016. Total damage is $581 million, plus the $82 million spent so far this year, plus another $157 million spent in fiscal 2013 that we dug up from and earlier filing.
That’s $820 million spent directly on FCPA matters. Ouch. And it still doesn’t include other ancillary, indirect costs such as other Walmart departments lending a hand to the compliance function, or whatever final settlement the company might pay to end the investigation once and for all.
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