Walmart Shareholders Meeting 2012, While Wal-Mart’s U.S. business is roaring back, the world’s largest retailer will face scrutiny from shareholders at its annual meeting Friday in the wake of allegations that top executives neglected their responsibility in a bribery scandal in Mexico.
Shareholder groups, including the nation’s two largest public pension funds, and key proxy adviser firms have called for the removal of several board members, including CEO Mike Duke and former CEO Lee Scott. Investors have filed lawsuits against top executives.
The descendants of founder Sam Walton own about 50 percent of Wal-Mart’s shares, so activist shareholders have little chance of voting out the board members. But any lack of support for the leaders is a blow to the retailer, which has worked hard to rebuild its reputation. Such criticism could dampen the festivities of the celebrity-laden event, which will celebrate the company’s 50th anniversary.
The New York Times reported in April that Wal-Mart allegedly failed to notify law enforcement after finding evidence that officials authorized millions of dollars in bribes in Mexico to get speedier building permits and other favors.
Mexico is Wal-Mart’s largest international operation. Duke was the head of the international division and Scott was CEO when Wal-Mart was conducting the probe in 2005.
Federal authorities in the U.S. and Mexico are said to be investigating Wal-Mart for potential violations of the 1977 law that forbids U.S. companies from bribing foreign officials.
Wal-Mart has said it is overhauling its compliance program and has launched an internal investigation. It disclosed last month that it is widening the investigation to other countries. (AP)