The Wal-Mart executive at the center of a scandal over bribery in Mexico resigned Tuesday from his position on the boards of insurers MetLife, Inc and Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, MetLife said.
In a letter to the MetLife chairman, Wal-Mart Stores vice chairman Eduardo Castro-Wright said he was resigning from the two insurers' boards effective immediately due to "recent events that will require my immediate and personal attention."
"I now must focus my energy in spending personal time with my family and in protecting my good name and business reputation," he wrote.
"It is my expectation that these outside distractions will be resolved favorably within the next several months. In the interim, however, they would not allow me to perform my duties at the highest levels that both the board and I demand."
On Saturday, The New York Times reported that Castro-Wright oversaw Wal-Mart's rapid expansion of its Mexico operations in the early 2000s, when the company allegedly shelled out $24 million in bribes to Mexican officials.
The story suggested that Wal-Mart had violated both Mexican and US laws, including the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which aims at curbing US corporate misbehavior abroad.
It also said the bribery was known by top executives in Wal-Mart's Arkansas headquarters who allegedly quashed an internal investigation.
In a statement, Wal-Mart downplayed the Times allegations about the scandal as "more than six years old."
"Walmart has been working diligently on US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) compliance and has a rigorous process in place to quickly and aggressively manage issues like this when they arise," it said.
But the company added that it has established a new global FCPA compliance officer positions, as well as a dedicated Mexico FCPA compliance officer.
"All of this is in addition to the worldwide review of our anti-corruption program that we initiated in March of 2011. We are taking a deep look at our policies and procedures in every country in which we operate," the giant retailer said.
Wal-Mart's shares sank 3.0 percent Tuesday to $57.77, after a 4.7 percent drop on Monday.