A Delaware judge on Monday (May 20) ordered Walmart (NYSE:WMT) to turn over to investors everything it knows about allegations of Mexican bribes delivered by Walmart representatives. The judge, Delaware Chancery Court Judge Leo Strine ruling in Wilmington, also seemed to be rather upset with how Walmart's lawyers have been handling the case. He ruled that the retailer had taken a "persnickety and narrow" approach to turning over documents requested by attorneys for large pension funds trying to find out what, and when, company directors knew of the payments, The Huffington Post reported.
At a hearing, the judge elaborated on his ruling, instructing Walmart lawyers that they "can sanitize its response" for shareholder documents, BusinessWeek reported.
U.S. and Mexican prosecutors said last year they are investigating the bribery allegations, first reported by The New York Times. The newspaper said an executive of Walmart's Mexican unit alerted company officials in 2005 about bribes paid to facilitate construction of new stores and warehouses.
At least $24 million in "suspect payments" were made as part of scheme, The Times said, citing internal files. The newspaper also said Walmart executives in the U.S. and Mexico limited the company's investigation into the bribery scheme.
Internal documents showed Walmart's Mexican unit used a state governor in Mexico to facilitate $156,000 in bribes, Bloomberg News reported this year. Walmart officials lost a bid last week to bar Stuart Grant, a lawyer for shareholders, from using the publicly disclosed documents as part of his bid to force the retailer to produce more bribe-related documents.
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