Wal-Mart Reorganizes Compliance Office Amid Probe

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT), the world’s largest retailer, combined its compliance office with ethics, investigations and legal functions to form one organization amid a bribery probe at the company’s Mexico operations.

The new unit will report to the company’s general counsel, Wal-Mart said today in a memo. The retailer also hired Jay Jorgensen, an attorney with Sidley Austin LLP in Washington, as global chief compliance officer. The moves come after Wal-Mart named Daniel Trujillo to the new position of senior vice president and chief compliance officer of its international operations earlier this month.

The U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission are investigating allegations that Wal-Mart systematically bribed Mexican officials so it could more quickly open stores, possibly violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

Wal-Mart, based in Bentonville, Arkansas, was little changed at $74.82 at the close in New York. The shares have gained 25 percent this year.

Jorgensen previously served as a law clerk for U.S. Supreme Court Justice William Rehnquist and Samuel Alito while he was at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, according to the memo. Wal-Mart declined to make Jorgensen available for an interview.

The company has spent more than $30 million over the past 17 months to implement its new global anti-corruption compliance program, according to the memo. As part of the effort, company “Ethics Officers” outside the U.S. now must report to Wal-Mart International rather than to the CEOs in their respective countries, the memo said.

The Wall Street Journal reported the changes and hiring earlier.

To contact the reporters on this story: Matt Townsend in New York at mtownsend9@bloomberg.net; Renee Dudley in New York at rdudley6@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Robin Ajello at rajello@bloomberg.net

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