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Wal-Mart Review Shows No Surveillance Occurred

BENTONVILLE, Ark. — H. Lee Scott Jr., president and chief executive officer of Wal-Mart Stores here, said in a letter scheduled to be mailed to shareholders Friday that the results of “a thorough review” by the company’s legal department concluded there had not been any covert surveillance of private meetings of board members or of shareholders — a response to published reports that indicated such surveillance had taken place. Accompanying the letter was an affidavit from Thomas A. Mars, executive vice president and general counsel, who said the affidavit was intended to honor the request of a shareholder who asked that Wal-Mart certify it had not engaged in inappropriate surveillance. Mars said Wal-Mart became aware in January that Bruce D. Gabbard, who worked in the information systems division, had engaged in certain activities — activities the document did not detail, but were reported to include the taping of conversations between a Wal-Mart spokeswoman and the New York Times — that led to his dismissal on March 5. Gabbard was identified in an April 4 story in the Wall Street Journal as the newspaper’s primary source on allegations that he was part of a surveillance operation that snooped on employees and on shareholders who were submitting proposals for the June 1 annual meeting. Mars said Gabbard subsequently told Wal-Mart his comments had been taken out of context and that other statements in the Journal story were not true. Mars said Wal-Mart’s own investigation found no evidence that anyone had ever listened secretly to meetings of Wal-Mart’s board or of proponents of shareholder proposals. — Elliot Zwiebach

TAGS: Walmart