retail news in context, analysis with attitude

• The Los Angeles Times reports that the California Public Employees' Retirement System (CalPERS) announced that it is "withholding its support for the election of nine Wal-Mart directors" pending what it calls "a thorough and independent investigation into the bribery allegations" made against Walmart's Mexico division.

As the story notes, "CalPERS' announcement came a day after its smaller cousin, the California State Teachers' Retirement System, said it is opposing the election of all 16 Wal-Mart directors. CalSTRS cited reasons similar to CalPERS' for its actions."

The moves come in response to an April New York Times story that provided an inside look at Walmart’s Mexico division, suggesting that its fast growth was fueled by bribes, and that top management was more concerned with details not being revealed and investigations not being allowed to move forward than it was with stopping the systematic corruption and adhering to US law that forbids American companies from bribing foreign officials. Both current CEO Mike Duke and former CEO Lee Scott, among other senior executives, were implicated in the story and identified as both knowing about and covering up the bribery.
KC's View:
I suspect that Walmart will do everything it can to stage manage its upcoming annual meeting so that dissidents don't get too much attention, and that the Mexico situation is pushed aside with legal bromides such as "we're doing everything we can to cooperate but we cannot comment on an ongoing investigation."

But I still think there is at least a strong possibility that this is just the beginning of this scandal. As they said in All The President's Men ... follow the money/.