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Wal-Mart expects to incur losses related to overseas bribery probe

Two people walk outside a Wal-Mart store in Mexico City January 11, 2013. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido
Two people walk outside a Wal-Mart store in Mexico City January 11, 2013. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido

(Reuters) - Wal-Mart Stores Inc said in a regulatory filing on Tuesday that is now "probable" it will incur losses related to allegations that company representatives had bribed officials in Mexico to speed up expansion there.

Wal-Mart said in its annual report, filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, that it could not estimate how much any loss would come to because of the complexity of the related probes and internal review, but that it would not have a material effect on its business.

The bribery allegations surfaced in a New York Times report last year that said the company had intentionally stifled an early internal probe into claims that Wal-Mart de Mexico officials had paid bribes years earlier to help build stores there.

The matter cost Wal-Mart $157 million in the fiscal year that ended January 31 and the tally will rise, the retailer said.

"We expect to continue to incur costs ... in conducting our on-going review and investigations," Wal-Mart said. As of three months earlier, the costs had come to $99 million.

Last year, Wal-Mart made a profit of $17 billion on sales of $469 billion.

(Reporting by Phil Wahba in New York; Editing by Edmund Klamann)

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