Wal-Mart Executives, Directors Sued Over Bribery Probe

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT) was sued by a shareholder claiming its executives and directors mismanaged the company, leading to alleged bribery of officials in Mexico and coverup of an internal probe.

Company officers and directors responsible for the wrongdoing should reimburse Bentonville, Arkansas-based Wal-Mart for damages related to the investigation and the alleged bribery, lawyers for investor Henrietta Klein said in a Delaware Chancery Court complaint filed today in Wilmington.

Officials “are required to use their utmost ability” to manage Wal-Mart fairly, and have shown “a reckless disregard for their duties” and “should have been aware” of “a risk of serious injury to the company,” Klein said in the suit.

The U.S. government investigation into $24 million in alleged Mexican bribes as the company expanded south of the U.S. border could cost Wal-Mart hundreds of millions of dollars, according to former federal prosecutors.

Wal-Mart de Mexico’s growth in the last 10 years gave the company about 20 percent of its stores in Mexico, out of more than 10,000 worldwide.

Greg Rossiter, a Wal-Mart spokesman, couldn’t immediately comment on the lawsuit.

The case is Klein v. Walton, CA7455, Delaware Chancery Court (Wilmington).

To contact the reporter on this story: Phil Milford in Wilmington, Delaware, at pmilford@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net.

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