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CalPERS withholds votes on nine Wal-Mart directors

May 23, 2012|By Marc Lifsher
  • A Wal-Mart store in Mountain View, Calif. The California Public Employees' Retirement System is withholding support for Wal-Mart directors.
A Wal-Mart store in Mountain View, Calif. The California Public Employees'… (Paul Sakuma/AP )

SACRAMENTO --Adding weight to a growing backlash over alleged corruption in Mexico, the California Public Employees' Retirement System is withholding its support for the election of nineWal-Mart directors.

The $228-billion CalPERS fund said it would not support the officers pending "a thorough and independent investigation into the bribery allegations" involving the company's largest foreign subsidiary, Wal-Mart de Mexico.

CalPERS' announcement came a day after its smaller cousin, the California State Teachers' Retirement System, said it is opposing the election of all 16 Wal-Mart directors. CalSTRS cited reasons similar to CalPERS' for its actions.

Five New York City pension funds earlier this month said they would not support some of the Wal-Mart directors.

The allegations that Wal-Mart officials in Mexico paid $24 million in bribes to officials there to speed the opening of stores were first reported in April by the New York Times. Wal-Mart since has said it is investigating the matter and wants to have an effective anti-corruption program in every country where it operates. Federal law prohibits U.S. corporations from paying bribes in foreign countries.

The results of the directors elections will be announced at Wal-Mart's annual meeting on June 1 in Fayetteville, Ark.


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