Wal-Mart overhauls compliance department amid bribery probe

Wed Oct 24, 2012 5:54pm EDT

A Walmart store is seen in Rogers, Arkansas, November 8, 2009. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

A Walmart store is seen in Rogers, Arkansas, November 8, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/Lucy Nicholson

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(Reuters) - Wal-Mart Stores Inc has reorganized its compliance department and hired a global chief compliance officer as the world's largest retailer deals with a bribery scandal at its Mexico unit.

In a company-wide memo sent by Chief Executive Mike Duke on Wednesday, the company said that its compliance, ethics, investigations and legal units will all report to Wal-Mart's general counsel, Jeff Gearhart, starting on December 1.

In addition, the company has created the position of global chief compliance officer, which will report to Gearhart, according to the memo. The position will be held by Jay Jorgensen, who once served as a law clerk to former U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist and was most recently a partner at the law firm Sidley Austin.

The changes represent the most public moves yet by Wal-Mart to strengthen its anti-corruption efforts as it faces investigations from the U.S. Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission into whether it violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which prohibits bribes to officials of foreign governments.

The New York Times reported in April that Wal-Mart had intentionally stifled an internal probe into bribery at its Mexican affiliate, Walmex. Wal-Mart has said it is investigating the matter and cooperating with the probes.

The company has spent more than $30 million in the past 17 months to update its global anti-corruption program, with 79,000 hours logged and more than 1,000 interviews of market personnel, it said.

On Wednesday, Wal-Mart said it changed the structure of its legal department to foster "closer coordination and integration" of its compliance, ethics, investigations and legal functions.

Wal-Mart also named Daniel Trujillo as chief compliance officer for Wal-Mart International, and Tracy Reinhold as vice president of global investigations, both new positions for the company.

Trujillo, who previously spent 15 years at oilfield services company Schlumberger Ltd, will start on October 29.

Reinhold spent more than 20 years with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, most recently as associate executive assistant director of the National Security Branch.

Wal-Mart previously announced it created the position of global Foreign Corrupt Practices Act compliance officer and appointed Tom Gean to the role.

It also changed the reporting structure of its legal departments to have its regional general counsels report to the general counsel of Wal-Mart International rather than the CEO of the individual country.

(Reporting by Jessica Wohl in Chicago and Aruna Viswanatha in Washington; editing by Tim Dobbyn and Matthew Lewis)

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