The Indiana Electrical Workers Pension Trust Fund, a local arm of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) and a shareholder of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE:WMT), filed a complaint requesting a court order to gain access to all documents regarding the bribery allegations against the retailers’ Mexican subsidiary.
The Indiana pension fund filed its lawsuit at the Delaware Court of Chancery. The shareholder cited the documents provided by Wal-Mart were heavily redacted and nearly worthless before bringing its demand to the court.
“Wal-Mart’s overuse of redactions is unjustified,” said the Indiana Electrical Workers Pension Trust Fund. The retail giant also redacted a copy of the complaint released to the public on Thursday.
In a statement, Theodore Boutrous, legal counsel for Wal-Mart said the company “produced thousands of pages of documents in compliance with the Delaware rules.” According to him, “We will respond to this complaint in due course.”
The retail giant launched an internal investigation regarding allegations that Wal-Mart de Mexico bribed government officials in Mexico to get construction permits and ensure its dominance in the market. The company said it is cooperating with the investigations of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
In April, the New York Times reported that Wal-Mart sent investigators to Mexico City to find out if Wal-Mart de Mexico obtained its construction permits through bribery. The investigators found evidences of suspected payments worth $24 million, indicating bribes were indeed paid out, the executives of the retailer’s Mexican subsidiary had knowledge about it and tried to hide it from its main office in the United States.
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE:WMT)’s lead investigator concluded their initial investigation with a statement, “There is a reasonable suspicion to believe that Mexico and USA laws have been violated,” and suggested further investigation.
According to the report, the retail giant did not continue its investigation or inform authorities in Mexico and the United States regarding the issue. Instead of implementing disciplinary action against Eduardo Castro-Wright, who was responsible in the alleged bribery, he was promoted as vice chairman of Wal-Mart in 2008.
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE:WMT) discovered the bribery in September 2005. It was compelled to conduct internal investigations and informed the DOJ of possible violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act by its Mexican subsidiary, after the New York Times published an article about the issue.
In a regulatory filing, Wal-Mart said the accusations have no material adverse effect on its business.
In May, the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS), which holds 5.3 million shares in Wal-Mart, also filed a complaint against the board of directors and some of the top executives of the retail giant, for breaching its fiduciary duty in connection with the bribery accusations.