Wal-Mart executive Tom Mars exits (updated)

An internal memo from Walmart US CEO Bill Simon circulated throughout the company Wednesday (Feb. 27) announced that Tom Mars, executive vice president and chief administrative officer, will exit the company March 13.

There was no reason given for Mars' departure in the memo obtained by The City Wire and Wal-Mart has publicly declined comment.

Mars has been with Wal-Mart for 11 years and served as general council during the period under scrutiny for violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

From 2002 to 2009, Mars was involved in an investigation into bribery allegations regarding a Wal-Mart store built near the Mexican pyramids, according to company emails released in earlier this year by Congressional members. Internal emails mentioned in a New York Times' April report connect Mars to the matter as the senior corporate lawyer who briefed top executives such as Mike Duke  in 2005 on the Mexican bribery allegations.

For example, an email from Mars in October 2005, provided Duke with a memo summarizing the allegations with a note saying: "You'll want to read this. I'm available to discuss next steps."

The federal investigation into the matter is heating up as Kimco Realty Corp, a U.S. shopping center operator, also announced Wednesday that it been subpoenaed by the Securities and Exchange Commission with regard to possible FCPA violations involving Wal-Mart Stores.

In 2009, Mars was promoted to his recent role overseeing real estate and financial services for U.S. stores, the shows and events team as well as the company’s labor relations organization.

As the chief administrative officer, Mars has been accountable for business strategy alignment across Walmart U.S., including responsibility for all large events such as the Year Beginning Meeting, Holiday Meeting and Saturday Morning Meetings. 

Simon’s memo states, “Since joining Wal-Mart, Tom has been a champion for diversity and inclusion in every aspect of the business. In 2007, Tom received the American Bar Association’s Spirit of Excellence award in recognition of his significant achievements in promoting a diverse workplace.”

According to Wal-Mart’s website, Mars practiced law in Northwest Arkansas prior to joining the retailer. He served as an associate of the Rose Law Firm from 1986 to 1988, where he worked for former First Lady and former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the firm’s litigation section.

Mars moved to Northwest Arkansas in 1988 where he practiced commercial litigation for the next 10 years. In 1998, Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee appointed Mars to serve as director of the Arkansas State Police. Mars served as state police director until 2001, when he stepped down to return to the practice of law.

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He is chair of the National Council of La Raza’s Corporate Board of Advisors and a member of the National Urban League Board of Trustees.

Mars attended law school at the University of Arkansas where he finished first in his class and served as editor-in-chief of the Arkansas Law Review. Thereafter, he served as a law clerk to U.S. Judge Monroe McKay on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit.

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