Md. retirement system to vote against electing Wal-Mart directors

Maryland's state retirement system said Thursday that it would once again vote against the election of Wal-Mart Stores' board because it isn't confident in the independence of the directors.

The Maryland State Retirement and Pension System, which owns 1.2 million shares of the retail giant, has a policy of voting against all candidates if less than two-thirds of a company's board is independent. Six of Wal-Mart's 16 board members are either company officials or affiliated with the company in another way, according to the system's proxy advisor.

The state system has voted against Wal-Mart's board in previous years for the same reason, said spokesman Michael D. Golden. But this year, a Wal-Mart bribery scandal has big pension funds in other states, including California and New York, also saying they intend to vote against all or some of the board members.

The Justice Department is investigating allegations that Wal-Mart executives bribed Mexican officials to speed up store openings, according to news reports.

Wal-Mart's board election is scheduled for Friday during its shareholder meeting.

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