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Wal-Mart scrambles to address FCPA violation accusation

Company has created an anti-bribery watchdog position, among other things

After news broke over the weekend the Wal-Mart Stores Inc. may have participated in covering up rampant violations to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) within its Mexican subsidiary, Wal-Mart de Mexico, the company has been taking steps to right the wrong.

The company announced yesterday that it has appointed a global officer to oversee its compliance with U.S. law that makes paying bribes to foreign officials illegal. Although the company hasn’t said when it created the position, Wal-Mart reported today that Tom Gean, a Wal-Mart in-house lawyer, holds the new global compliance officer title. In his new position, Gean—who has been in-house counsel at Wal-Mart since 2004—will report to the general counsel for Wal-Mart’s international unit.

On Saturday, the New York Times reported that Wal-Mart may have covered up its Mexican subsidiary’s involvement in paying bribes. Since then, the company has been working on damage control.

“Walmart has been working diligently on U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) compliance and has a rigorous process in place to quickly and aggressively manage issues like this when they arise,” the company said in a statement, in which it outlines other steps it is taking to address the problem. “In the last year, we have taken a number of specific, concrete actions to investigate this matter and strengthen our global FCPA compliance processes and procedures around the world and in Bentonville and Mexico.”

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Cathleen Flahardy

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