Walmart in Mexico

Walmart directors working on the retailer’s investigation into bribery allegations in Mexico had their cash pay doubled to at least $120,000 last year because of the extra work.

The world’s largest retailer by sales said four members of its audit committee were paid an extra $60,000 last year on top of their $60,000 annual retainers and equity awards worth $175,000.

The chair of the audit committee, Christopher Williams, head of the Williams Capital investment bank who joined the committee in 2005, had his retainer doubled from $85,000 to $170,000.

Walmart said the extra payments were justified by a “significant increase” in the workload of the audit committee, which is conducting an internal probe into alleged violations of US anti-bribery law.

“The audit committee conducted seven additional meetings related to the investigation, and audit committee members received frequent updates via conference calls and other means of communication with outside counsel and other advisers,” it said.

In a New York Times story last April, Walmart was accused of paying bribes to accelerate its expansion in Mexico and then shutting down a preliminary internal probe into the allegation in 2006.

Last November Walmart revealed that its internal probe into potential violations of anti-corruption law had extended to Brazil, China and India.

The audit committee’s other members are Arne Sorenson, chief executive of Marriott International; Tim Flynn, former chairman of KPMG; Aida Alvarez, a former member of President Bill Clinton’s cabinet; and James Cash, a former Harvard professor.

Walmart’s internal investigation is running alongside parallel probes by the US Department of Justice, the Securities and Exchange Commission, and two Democratic congressmen, Elijah Cummings and Henry Waxman.

The payments covered the 12 months to January 31 2013. The remuneration details were published in regulatory filings made ahead of Walmart’s June annual meeting.

Walmart has said its expenses related to the corruption allegations were $157m last year.

In a separate filing last month, Walmart said it “could be exposed to a variety of negative consequences” from the alleged corruption case and that it was “probable that we will incur a loss from these matters”.

It said it did not believe the case would have a “material adverse effect” on its business but could provide no assurance on this.

The retailer says it is reviewing its policies and strengthening its anti-corruption programmes.

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