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Wal-Mart Chairman Says Company Taking Mexico Allegations 'Very Seriously'

By Karen Talley Of DOW JONES NEWSWIRES Wal-Mart Inc. (WMT) is taking "very seriously" bribery and cover-up allegations in connection with its Mexican operations, Chairman Rob Walton said Friday at the company's annual meeting. The comment came as Walton started the shareholder input part of the session and warned gathered employees and shareholders, "Don't be surprised if we have some interruptions" given Mexico is a hot button. A number of proxy advisory firms and large shareholders have indicated they will vote against several board members, including Walton, in the wake of the allegations. Wal-Mart is taking anti-bribery allegations "very seriously" and working with the U.S. government to find out what, if anything, happened, Walton said. "Operating with integrity is an integral part of our business," he said. "If violations of the law are found, appropriate action will be taken." The annual meeting, usually an uninterrupted celebration, this year comes as Wal-Mart is overhauling its global compliance programs and conducting a large-scale investigation into its Mexican operations for possible violations of the U.S. law that prohibits bribery in foreign countries. Wal-Mart off 0.6% to $65.46 in premarket trading after hitting a fresh 12-year high Thursday. -By Karen Talley, Dow Jones Newswires; (212) 416-2196; karen.talley@dowjones.com

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