Massachusetts Pension Reserves Investment Management board on Tuesday said it voted against the election of seven Wal-Mart Stores Inc. board members that Boston-based PRIM deemed either “too close” to an alleged bribery scandal in Mexico that came to light earlier this year or lacking independence.
According to an announcement by Steven Grossman, state treasurer and MassPRIM board chairman, the $50 billion state pension fund owns 923,626 Wal-Mart shares valued at about $60 million.
The announcement cited allegations that Wal-Mart executives in Mexico bribed government officials in the country, and that “some members of the company's board of directors and senior management were complicit in regulatory and legal misconduct related to the incident.”
“These allegations detail egregious examples of corporate illegalities, and it's critical that we as shareholders voice our strong disapproval,” Mr. Grossman said in the statement.
A Wal-Mart spokesman couldn't immediately be reached for comment.
Jon Carlisle, a spokesman for Mr. Grossman, said PRIM voted against the seven non-independent directors on Wal-Mart's board, in accordance with recommendations by Institutional Shareholder Services, which advises PRIM on proxy voting.
The board members PRIM voted against are Wal-Mart President and CEO Michael T. Duke, former CEO H. Lee Scott Jr., board Chairman S. Robson Walton, audit committee Chairman Christopher J. Williams, and also against board members M. Michele Burns, Gregory B. Penner and Jim C. Walton.
Among other public pension plans that have announced their opposition to re-electing some or all of Wal-Mart's board are the California Public Employees' Retirement System, California State Teachers' Retirement System, Connecticut Retirement Plans & Trust Funds and New York City Retirement Systems.
The votes will be tabulated at Wal-Mart's annual meeting on June 1.