Wal-Mart Stores Inc. appointed former U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas Tom Gean as its “Global FCPA Compliance Officer” earlier this year, according to spokesman David Tovar.
In an email to journalists, the Wal-Mart spokesman noted that Gean was appointed prior to a story by The New York Times, published online on Saturday, that alleged Wal-Mart’s Mexican subsidiary paid $24 million in bribes to Mexican officials and then covered it up. Tovar, however, did not specify the date of Gean’s appointment.
Wal-mart had disclosed an internal investigation in December 2011 into possible violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practice Act, which prohibits payments to foreign officials to win business. The Times said the disclosure came after the Bentonville, Ark., retailer learned of its reporting.
Gean, who joined Wal-Mart’s legal department in 2004, was nominated to the U.S. Attorney’s office in 2001 by President George W. Bush.
John A. Pappalardo, Joe D. Whitley and Greg W. Kehoe of Greenberg Traurig LLP are conducting a worldwide review of the company’s compliance programs and are reporting to Gean. They are being assisted by a team from KPMG LLP and began their review in March 2011, Tovar said.
Law firm Jones Day is conducting Wal-Mart’s internal investigation, which began in November 2011. The team is led by another former U.S. Attorney, Karen P. Hewitt, who served in the Southern District of California; Daniel E. Reidy and Peter J. Romatowski. In addition, Jones Day partner Hank Bond Walther, a former assistant chief in the Justice Department’s criminal Fraud Section, where he prosecuted FCPA cases, is assisting with the on-site investigation in Mexico, as Just Anti-Corruption previously reported.
The Jones Day team is being assisted by forensic accountants from Deloitte.
“It’s important to understand that the Audit Committee of the board is overseeing the investigation and is comprised entirely of independent directors,” Tovar said in the email. “Jones Day is leading the investigation and reporting to the Audit Committee on a regular basis.”
Bart Friedman and David N. Kelley, partners at Cahill Gordon & Reindel LLP are serving as legal counsel for the Audit Committee.
See Just Anti-Corruption’s previous coverage below: