Last week, Walmart announced that DOJ Associate Attorney General Rachel Brand will “join the company as Executive Vice President, Global Governance and Corporate Secretary” and “be responsible for the organization’s Legal, Global Ethics and Compliance and Global Investigation, Security, Aviation and Travel departments, along with her role as corporate secretary.”
It was funny to see some on social media seemingly hyperventilate about this development.
Surely this must be connected to Wal-Mart’s long-standing FCPA scrutiny the inference seemed to be.
Set forth below are some screenshots from social media.
So now let’s focus on some facts.
Despite the false narrative advanced by some that Walmart’s FCPA scrutiny began with the New York Times April 2012 article (see here), Walmart’s FCPA scrutiny began in November 2011 with a voluntarily disclosure. In other words, Walmart’s FCPA scrutiny has lasted for approximately 6.5 years – long yes, unprecedented no.
A few weeks ago, Jeff Gearhart (who held the position that Brand is assuming) retired.
Brand was at the DOJ for approximately 9 months and while at DOJ appears to have had no specific role in the DOJ’s Fraud Section where FCPA matters are handled. Rather, as stated by the DOJ Brand oversaw:
“the following Department components: Antitrust Division, Civil Division, Civil Rights Division, Environment and Natural Resources Division, Tax Division, Executive Office for U.S. Trustees, Office of Justice Programs, Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS), Office on Violence Against Women, Community Relations Service, Office of Access to Justice, Office of Information Policy, Foreign Claims Settlement Commission, and the Service members and Veterans Initiative. She also serves as the Department’s Regulatory Reform Officer and chairs the Regulatory Reform Task Force.”
Long before Walmart’s announcement about Brand joining the company, the company disclosed the following regarding its long-standing FCPA scrutiny:
“discussions with the government agencies in the FCPA matter have progressed to the point that the company recorded an accrual of $283 million, or $0.09 per share … regarding the possible resolution of the FCPA matter.”
In other words, some people need to take a deep breath.
And when they regain their breath they might also realize, in addition to the above, that Tony West (DOJ Associate Attorney General during the Obama administration – the same position as Brand) left the DOJ in 2014 to become PepsiCo’s general counsel and corporate secretary.