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Wal-Mart Stores Inc. on Friday named Enrique Ostale president and chief executive officer of Wal-Mart Latin America, effective March 1.
Ostale will take the reins of the retail giant’s operations in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico and Nicaragua at a difficult time for the Bentonville, Ark.-based retailer and its international division. Wal-Mart is facing an ongoing investigation into possible bribery in multiple global markets, with Mexico taking center stage.
Ostale will succeed Eduardo Solórzano, who will retire as president and ceo of Wal-Mart Latin America but continue to serve as chairman of the Wal-Mart de Mexico board. Gian Carlo Nucci, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Wal-Mart de Mexico, will replace Ostale as president and ceo of Wal-Mart Chile.
Wal-Mart is under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission and the U.S. Department of Justice into whether it violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. The retailer is looking into potential violations of the FCPA in Brazil, India and China. However, the smoking gun now appears to be Mexico, where the alleged bribery may have occurred as early as 2005, despite Wal-Mart’s claims to the contrary. Reps. Elijah Cummings (D., Md.) and Henry Waxman (D., Calif.), who are probing Wal-Mart, on Thursday said that Wal-Mart president and ceo Mike Duke appears to have known of the alleged bribery, based on internal documents. Duke headed international operations when the bribes are said to have taken place.
Ostale, who in 1989 joined D&S, Chile’s largest food retailer, rose from finance manager to chief financial officer. In 2000, he became ceo of Chilean newspaper El Mercurio’s Web site. Ostale rejoined D&S in 2006 as president and ceo. He led D&S’s transformation into Wal-Mart Chile after its 2009 acquisition by the retail giant.