Massachusetts pension board opposes re-election of Walmart directors, citing Mexico scandal
The board of the Massachusetts state pension fund, which has $60 million invested in Walmart Stores Inc. stock, voted against the re-election of seven corporate directors at the giant retailer.
State officials said some of the directors, “were deemed too closely associated” with an alleged bribery scandal involving the permitting of Walmart stores in Mexico.
The $50 billion Massachusetts pension fund has sometime taken such activist positions under Treasurer Steven Grossman, who is its chairman. In a statement, Grossman called the allegations against Walmart “egregious examples of corporate illegalities, and it’s critical that we as shareholders voice our strong disapproval.”
The Mexico allegations -- first reported by The New York Times -- involve executives at Walmart de Mexico, a subsidiary of the retailer, reportedly paying bribes to government officials to speed construction of new stores, Walmart sent its own investigators to Mexico City and found evidence of the bribery, including suspect payments of more than $24 million, but the company allegedly attempted to keep the information from law enforcement officials.
At Walmart’s annual meeting, scheduled for Friday, stockholders will vote on executive pay and the re-election of directors. Walmart was not immediately available to comment on the Massachusetts pension fund action.
The state voted against the re-election to the board of two members of the company’s founding family, Jim C. Walton, S. Robson Walton, former chief executive H. Lee Scott, Jr., as well as M. Michele Burns, Michael T. Duke, Gregory B. Penner and Christopher J. Williams.Beth Healy can be reached at email@example.com.