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Wal-Mart beefs up anti-corruption efforts during bribery probe

October 25, 2012|By Shan Li
  • Wal-Mart is beefing up its anti-corruption department as it faces continued scrutiny into alleged bribery in Mexico.
Wal-Mart is beefing up its anti-corruption department as it faces continued… (Tim Boyle / Getty Images )

Discount giant Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has hired a global chief compliance officer and streamlined its ethics and compliance department as it faces continued scrutiny over alleged bribery in its Mexico subsidiary.

In a company-wide memo on Wednesday, Chief Executive Mike Duke said starting Dec. 1, the retailer's  legal, investigations, ethics and compliance sections will be combined into one group that reports to Wal-Mart general counsel Jeff Gearhart, Reuters reports.

The world's largest retailer also appointed Jay Jorgensen, a lawyer who once clerked for a Supreme Court justice, to the newly created position of global chief compliance officer. He will report to Gearhart.

Wal-Mart is facing investigations by the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Justice Department launched after the New York Times reported in April that company officials at its Mexico operations routinely used bribery to smooth the way for expansion. Various Mexican government agencies are investigating the corruption allegations as well.

The company said it has already spent more than $30 million over the last year and a half to beef up its global anti-corruption efforts, Reuters said. The latest moves represent the most visible efforts to foster "closer coordination and integration" of the various departments in charge of preventing and dealing with compliance.

Wal-Mart also appointed a chief compliance officer for its international division and also a vice president of global investigations, Reuters said. The company said it has also tweaked the way reports are sent up the chain of command -- now regional lawyers report the the general counsel of Wal-Mart international instead of the chief executive of each country.


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