Via Reuters Finance

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Walmart de Mexico paid $358 million in taxes after talks with the Mexican government over an even larger sum authorities had aimed to charge the retailer for the sale of a restaurant chain, the company said on Monday.

FILE PHOTO: A Walmart sign is pictured at one of their stores in Mexico City, Mexico March 28, 2019. Picture taken March 28, 2019. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido

The pact comes as President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador seeks to tighten tax enforcement in a country with the lowest take in the 36-nation Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. On Monday, Lopez Obrador said collection was up this year from the first five months of 2019.

“This was the amount that we arrived at in collaboration,” Walmex’s director of corporate affairs, Claudia de la Vega, said in an interview, adding that the company worked directly with the tax authority (SAT) to review its income taxes from 2014 to 2018.

“We are sure that this payment finally brings certainty.”

The evaluation took place in the last six to eight weeks, and was lengthy due to the complexity of tax law, she said.

The SAT did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In recent weeks, the president has threatened to make public the names of 15 companies he said owed a total of $2 billion in taxes.

Some Mexican media speculated that Walmart de Mexico, also known as Walmex (WALMEX.MX), was on the list. De la Vega said she had no knowledge of which firms were on the list, however.

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Walmex in 2018 first announced a tax claim of 3.67 billion pesos stemming from its 2014 sale of the chain, Vips, to restaurant operator Alsea. But in April, the company said the charge had ballooned to 10.74 billion pesos.

The final payment of 8.08 billion pesos is more than 80% of Walmex’s first-quarter net income, and slightly tops its net income from the corresponding quarter last year.

Reporting by Daina Beth Solomon; Editing by Clarence Fernandez