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Wal-Mart centralizes compliance work, hires Sidley Austin lawyer

A Walmart store is seen in Rogers, Arkansas, November 8, 2009. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
A Walmart store is seen in Rogers, Arkansas, November 8, 2009. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

(Reuters) - Wal-Mart Stores Inc said on Wednesday that various staff groups involved in compliance and legal issues will soon all report to its general counsel as the world's largest retailer works on coordinating efforts after an alleged foreign bribery scandal.

In a memo sent by Chief Executive Mike Duke, the company said that starting on December 1 its compliance, ethics, investigations and legal units will become one organization under Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary Jeff Gearhart.

Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, continues to face investigations by the U.S. Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission following a New York Times report published in April about alleged bribery at its Mexican unit, Walmex .

Wal-Mart also said on Wednesday that it has already spent more than $30 million on updating its global foreign corrupt practices act and anti-corruption compliance program.

Jay Jorgensen will become Wal-Mart's senior vice president and global chief compliance officer, reporting to Gearhart.

Jorgensen is joining Wal-Mart from Washington, D.C. law firm Sidley Austin. Prior to his work at Sidley Austin, where he was a partner and litigator, Jorgensen was a law clerk for former U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist and for then Judge Samuel Alito at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.

Wednesday's announcement comes soon after Wal-Mart said that Daniel Trujillo would start on October 29 in the newly-created role of senior vice president and chief compliance officer at Walmart International. Trujillo previously spent 15 years at oilfield services company Schlumberger Ltd , where he was most recently deputy general counsel and director of compliance.

(Reporting by Jessica Wohl in Chicago; Editing by Tim Dobbyn)

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