Walmart spent over $109 mn in FY14 on anti-corruption drive
Washington: US retail giant Walmart spent more than USD 109 million in fiscal 2014 to enhance its global anti-corruption compliance programme and added personnel for the same in many countries, including India.
Between December 2011 and January 2014, the company also delivered anti-corruption training to more than 1,00,000 personnel from all levels around the world, including key senior executives and officers who interact directly or indirectly with government officials.
In its annual report for the financial year ended January 31, 2014, Walmart said compliance with the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and other anti-corruption laws remained a key priority.
"In fiscal 2014, the company has spent in excess of USD 109 million on enhancements to its global anti-corruption compliance program and financial controls," the report said.
Walmart, based in Bentonville in Arkansas, hired several anti-corruption directors and staffers at its global headquarters and international retail markets during the year.
Over the past 14 months, Walmart brought separate groups that assist it in complying with the law and company policies together into a unified global compliance programme.
The global programme is led by a senior vice president and global chief compliance officer (CCO) who reports to the Executive Vice-President, Global Governance and Corporate Secretary and directly to the Audit Committee.
By the end of fiscal 2014, the company had appointed 10 CCOs in the international division to build and lead compliance teams in the company's retail markets, it said.
"The company also appointed regional CCOs to lead and support the compliance organisation within three international regions -- LatAm (Argentina, Brazil, Central America, Chile, Mexico), Asia (China, India, Japan), and EMEA (Africa, Canada, UK)," it said.
With the addition of new anti-corruption resources, the company said it shifted "some anti-corruption compliance work from external consultants to internal staff."
"This effort is critical to promoting the long-term sustainability and capability of the company's anti-corruption compliance team," it added.
Walmart has about 11,000 stores under 71 banners in 27 countries and posted sales of over USD 473 billion in fiscal 2014.
In 2012, Walmart announced it was investigating allegations of corrupt practices against it in foreign markets, including Brazil, China and India in addition to its then ongoing investigation in Mexico.
As part of the investigations at the time, Walmart had suspended five people, including four from its legal team, in India in 2012.
Since then, the company's former India head Raj Jain and CFO Pankaj Madan have joined erstwhile partner Bharti group.
In March 2011, Walmart started a worldwide review of its policies, practices and internal controls for FCPA compliance.
Walmart said anti-corruption compliance training was delivered in a number of ways in fiscal 2014.
They included a computer-based learning module to a broader audience of more than 45,000 associates; in-person procedure and practical scenario training to more than 16,000 associates, and in-person general FCPA awareness sessions in all markets to over 15,000 associates.
"In addition to training its own associates, Walmart has begun to provide training to certain third-party intermediaries and business partners," it said.