Wal-Mart Names Roberts General Counsel

BENTONVILLE, Ark. — Wal-Mart Stores [3] here said Thursday it has named Karen Roberts executive vice president and general counsel, effective Feb. 1.

Roberts, 42, most recently had been executive vice president and president of Wal-Mart Realty for Wal-Mart’s U.S. division. Before that she had been senior vice president and chief compliance officer for Walmart U.S. She joined Wal-Mart in 1985.

Karen Roberts, executive vice president and general counsel

In her new role, she will manage the legal department, which is responsible for handling all legal matters in both domestic and international markets. She will report to Jeff Gearhart, executive vice president and corporate secretary, who will continue to oversee the legal department but has taken on expanded responsibilities for Wal-Mart’s compliance, ethics and investigations teams as part of the company’s steps to align and strengthen those functions.

As previously reported, Wal-Mart said it is investigating potential violations of the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act in various countries. Earlier this year the New York Times reported on potential violations — specifically allegations of bribery of local officials by Wal-Mart in Mexico.

Read more: Wal-Mart Continues Bribery Investigation [4]

“We are committed to having a strong and effective global anti-corruption program everywhere we operate and taking appropriate action for any instance of non-compliance,” the company said in a statement this week.

In the announcement of Roberts' new role on Thursday, Gearhart described her as “an extremely talented professional whose integrity, breadth of experience and knowledge of Wal-Mart make her uniquely qualified for this important role.”

“Karen’s legal background and previous responsibilities directing our U.S. compliance and real estate functions provide an important perspective for overseeing the complex legal issues we deal with every day in our business.”

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