Officials at the New York City pension funds said they were taking action against the Wal-Mart directors because their previous efforts to persuade the board to increase its oversight of legal and regulatory practices at the retailer were unsuccessful. In 2005, for example, after reports that Wal-Mart had hired undocumented immigrants and violated child labor laws in three states, a group of institutional investors including the New York City comptroller asked the company’s board to hire an independent firm to review its regulatory controls and report findings to shareholders. Although Wal-Mart directors met with the investor group, the group’s request for a review was rebuffed.
The fruitless 2005 discussions re-emerged as an issue for John C. Liu, the New York City comptroller who is the trustee of the pension funds, because that was the year high-level Wal-Mart officials were told of bribery in its Mexico unit, according to a recent report in The New York Times. It is unclear whether Wal-Mart’s independent directors were aware of the Mexican improprieties, which The Times reported were related to expediting government approvals to build stores.Page 2 of 6 | Prev Page | Next Page