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Walmart strenghtens legal, compliance efforts

Karen Roberts was named EVP and general counsel for Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. on Thursday amid the retailer’s ongoing investigation in possible violations of the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

Roberts, 42, is a 17 year Walmart veteran who most recently served as EVP and president of Walmart Realty for Walmart U.S.. However, prior to that, she held the position of SVP and chief compliance officer for Walmart U.S. where she oversaw the establishment of food and product safety programs and a recycling program.

In her new capacity she will report to EVP and corporate secretary Jeff Gearhart, 48, effective at the beginning of the company’s new fiscal year on February 1, 2013. Her responsibilities will include management of Walmart’s legal department and all legal matters affecting the company in its domestic and international markets, according to Walmart. Meanwhile, Gearhart will maintain oversight for the legal function in addition to his newly expanded responsibilities for Walmart’s compliance, ethics and investigations teams as part of the company’s steps to align the functions and further strengthen its global compliance efforts.

"Karen’s humility, transparency and collaboration embody the leadership qualities we look for at Walmart," said Gearhart. "She is an extremely talented professional whose integrity, breadth of experience, and knowledge of Walmart 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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