‘No’ votes jump against Wal-Mart’s Duke, directors

BENTONVILLE, Ark., Wal-Mart Stores Inc. CEO Michael Duke, Chairman Rob Walton and former CEO Lee Scott received a far higher percentage of votes against re-election to the board of directors this year than last in the wake of Mexican bribery allegations.

The officials were targeted by large pension funds and activist groups after allegations its Wal-Mart de Mexico unit bribed officials to expand quickly last decade and that management squelched an internal investigation.

Scott, who was CEO of the world’s largest retailer at the time, received the most votes against, 15.65 percent of shares voted, according to Wal-Mart. A total of 13.1 percent voted against Duke, who was president of Wal-Mart International during the investigation, while 12.6 percent voted against Walton.

Audit Committee Chairman Christopher Williams had 13.3 percent of votes cast against him.

“It’s a strong vote of no confidence in the leadership and sends a strong message to the board,” said Michael Garland, executive director for corporate governance for New York City Comptroller John Liu.

Last year, all candidates received about 98 percent or more votes in favor of re-election, Wal-Mart said.

On Friday, Wal-Mart said all 15 board members were re-elected, a foregone conclusion as the family of founder Sam Walton controls roughly one-half of the company’s shares.