Consider 2012 One Wild Ride

by Northwest Arkansas Business Journal Staff  on Friday, Dec. 21, 2012 2:49 pm  

In Washington County, which is already wet, voters in Springdale and Tontitown voted to legalize the sale of liquor on Sunday, a reaction to the anticipated loss of revenue to Benton County.

Sunday liquor sales began Nov. 21.

 

3. Wal-Mart Wrap — The New York Times dropped a bombshell in April when it reported on claims of systemic bribery at Wal-Mart Stores Inc.’s Mexican subsidiary around 2005 and a subsequent cover-up involving some of Wal-Mart’s highest executives.

The article claimed Eduardo Castro-Wright, former head of Wal-Mart de Mexico, approved more than $24 million in bribes to government officials to speed up construction projects.

It also claimed executives including then-CEO Lee Scott knew of the bribery at the time and ignored it.

After the article’s publication, Wal-Mart revealed it had already started an internal investigation into the matter. Castro-Wright retired July 1 as Wal-Mart’s vice chairman.

The story spawned a congressional investigation into whether the world’s largest retailer violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Also, a California pension fund sued Wal-Mart’s board of directors and several current and former executives in connection with the bribery scandal.

Wal-Mart’s reputation took another hit late last month after 112 people died in a fire at a Bangladesh garment factory that was used without the retailer’s authorization by subcontractors for at least two suppliers.

None of this seems to have affected Wal-Mart’s financials as it celebrated its 50th year in business. In its third-quarter earnings report, released Nov. 15, the company said profit rose 9 percent over the previous year, and it expects fiscal-year earnings per share between $4.88 and $4.93, compared to last year’s $4.54.

 

4. On Obamacare — Officially known as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Obamacare made plenty of headlines in 2012.

 

 

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