retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Bloomberg reports that Walmart is being sued by a coalition of New York pension funds, charging that it was mismanagement that failed to prevent systemic and systematic bribery by the company's Mexico devision.

Included in the list of defendants are 27 current and former Wal-Mart board members and executives as defendants, including CEO Michael Duke. The plaintiffs include the New York City Employees’ Retirement System, Police Pension Fund, Fire Department Pension Fund and Board of Education Retirement System, all of which are Walmart investors.

According to Bloomberg, the suits contends "that company officials were duty bound to control alleged 'widespread corruption' and a subsequent cover-up at Wal-Mart de Mexico." The suit "seeks unspecified restitution from officials in behalf of the company and reforms 'to improve its corporate governance and internal procedures'."

The scandal was uncovered by the New York Times, and Walmart has said that it is cooperating with a series of investigations into the bribery allegations, though critics say that it only began talking to the US Department of Justice once it found out the Times was working on the story.

“We take our responsibility to our shareholders very seriously,” Walmart spokesman David Tovar told Bloomberg in an e-mailed statement. “We will review the lawsuit closely and are thoroughly investigating the issues that have been raised."
KC's View:
I know that some folks think that this is much ado about nothing, or business as usual, and that the long term impact on Walmart will be negligible.

I'm not buying it. If it can be proven that Walmart's top execs - the ones still there, and the ones who have gone off to run other companies - knew about the bribery and tried to cover it up, the implications for the company and its leadership could be enormous.