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Harry Cassin
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Thomas Fox
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Russell A. Stamets
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From Wal-Mart, A New (And Improved) FCPA Disclosure

Wal-Mart’s latest FCPA disclosure appeared in the company’s Form 10-Q filed with the SEC last Friday.

It’s a plain-English description of the DOJ, SEC, and Mexican investigations into the alleged bribery and cover up.

The disclosure talks about the class action suit filed in Tennessee, and eleven shareholder derivative suits (so far) filed in Delaware and Arkansas. Those suits, Wal-Mart said, ‘closely track the allegations set forth in a news story that appeared in the New York Times on April 21, 2012.’

Wal-Mart said its reputation as a ‘corporate citizen’ may take a beating. And that some of its executives are likely to be distracted dealing with the legal fallout. It also said compliance and core values matter, and that it will be trying to do better in the future.

Here’s the full text:

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The Audit Committee (the “Audit Committee”) of the Board of Directors of the Company, which is composed solely of independent directors, is conducting an internal investigation into, among other things, alleged violations of the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (the “FCPA”) and other alleged crimes or misconduct in connection with foreign subsidiaries including WalMart de México, S.A.B. de C.V. (“Walmex”) and whether prior allegations of such violations and/or misconduct were appropriately handled by the Company.

The Audit Committee and the Company have engaged outside counsel from a number of law firms and other advisors who are assisting in the on-going investigation of these matters. The Company is also conducting a voluntary global review of its policies, practices and internal controls for FCPA compliance.

The Company is engaged in strengthening its global anti-corruption compliance programs through appropriate remedial anti-corruption measures. In November 2011, the Company voluntarily disclosed that investigative activity to the U.S. Department of Justice (the “DOJ”) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”).

The Company has been informed by the DOJ and the SEC that it is also the subject of their respective investigations into possible violations of the FCPA. The Company is cooperating with the investigations by the DOJ and the SEC. A number of federal and local government agencies in Mexico have also recently initiated investigations of these matters. Walmex is cooperating with the Mexican governmental agencies conducting these investigations. Furthermore, lawsuits relating to the matters under investigation have recently been filed by several of the Company’s shareholders against it, its current directors, certain of its former directors, certain of its current and former officers and certain of Walmex’s current and former officers.

The Company could be exposed to a variety of negative consequences as a result of the matters noted above. There could be one or more enforcement actions in respect of the matters that are the subject of some or all of the ongoing government investigations, and such actions, if brought, may result in judgments, settlements, fines, penalties, injunctions, cease and desist orders or other relief, criminal convictions and/or penalties. The shareholder lawsuits may result in judgments against the Company and its current and former directors and officers named in those proceedings. The Company cannot predict accurately at this time the outcome or impact of the government investigations, the shareholder lawsuits, or its own internal investigation and review.

In addition, the Company expects to incur costs in responding to requests for information or subpoenas seeking documents, testimony and other information in connection with the government investigations, in defending the shareholder lawsuits, and in conducting its internal investigation and review, and it cannot predict at this time the ultimate amount of all such costs. These matters may require the involvement of certain members of the Company’s senior management that could impinge on the time they have available to devote to other matters relating to the business.

The Company may also see ongoing media and governmental interest in these matters that could impact the perception among certain audiences of its role as a corporate citizen.

The Company is in the early stages of assessing and responding to the governmental investigations and the shareholder lawsuits and its internal investigation and review are ongoing.

Although the Company does not presently believe that these matters will have a material adverse effect on its business, given the inherent uncertainties in such situations, the Company can provide no assurance that these matters will not be material to its business in the future. . . .

. . .  The Company is a defendant in several recently-filed lawsuits in which the complaints closely track the allegations set forth in a news story that appeared in the New York Times on April 21, 2012. One of these is a securities lawsuit that was filed on May 7, 2012, in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee, in which the plaintiff alleges various violations of the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (the “FCPA”) beginning in 2005, and asserts violations of Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, relating to certain prior disclosures of the Company. The plaintiff seeks to represent a class of shareholders who purchased or acquired stock of the Company between December 8, 2011, and April 20, 2012, and seeks damages and other relief based on allegations that the defendants’ conduct affected the value of such stock.

In addition, eleven derivative complaints were filed in April and May 2012, in Delaware and Arkansas, also tracking the allegations of the Times story, and naming various current and former officers and directors as additional defendants. The plaintiffs in the derivative suits (in which the Company is a nominal defendant) allege, among other things, that the defendants who are or were directors or officers of the Company breached their fiduciary duties in connection with oversight of FCPA compliance. While management cannot predict the outcome of these matters, management does not believe the outcome will have a material effect on the Company’s financial condition or results of operations.

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Research provided by ethiXbase, the world’s largest compliance database.

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