According to a document posted on-line by the manufacturer, Wal-Mart had been warned by an inspector that the factory posed a safety hazard to workers. A company spokesman told ABC News that Wal-Mart thought it had dropped the factory from its list of production facilities in Bangladesh, and said it was surprised to learn that a middleman had continued to use Tazreen to produce a Wal-Mart line of clothes.
"A supplier subcontracted work to this factory without authorization and in direct violation of our policies," said a Wal-Mart statement released Monday. "Today, we have terminated the relationship with that supplier. The fact that this occurred is extremely troubling to us, and we will continue to work across the apparel industry to improve fire safety education and training in Bangladesh."
The company would not say if it had plans to compensate victims of the fire or provide any assistance to the families of those who lost relatives in the blaze.
The president of Sean Combs's clothing brand provided a statement to ABC News saying the company "expect[s] all our licensees to have in place compliant standards for fire and safety conditions at any factory that may produce our brand," but blamed the decision to produce the line at Tazreen on a middleman – the Hong Kong-based company Li & Fung. Li & Fung did not return calls seeking comment, but posted a statement on its website expressing sympathy for the victims, and laying out a plan to compensate each family of a dead worker with a payment of $1,200.
A spokeswoman for Dickies said the company ceased production at the Tazreen factory "earlier this year" but would not say when. She would not respond to questions inquiring how clothing with the Dickies label was photographed on the factory floor the day after the blaze.
Officials from the company that owns the Tazreen factory have said little as the government has investigated the cause of the fire, and has not addressed the assertions by some survivors of the blaze that factory managers had initially ordered workers to remain in place when fire alarms sounded, that there were limited fire exits, and that at least one exit was locked. The company, Tuba Group, includes on its website a certificate showing a rating of compliance from a non- profit group called Worldwide Responsible Apparel Production, or WRAP, which is based in Arlington, Virginia.
The certificate, however, was for a different factory owned by Tuba. The company initially applied for a certification from the group for the Tazreen factory in November of last year, according to Russ Jowell, communications manager for WRAP. But Tuba failed to pay the $1,200 application fee for the Tazreen certification, and so the factory was never visited by the group's inspectors.
"The factory in question, Tazreen, has not, nor has it ever been, certified by us. Not now or ever," Jowell said.