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Wal-Mart exec. in hot water

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Sandhusker

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Associated Press
Grand Jury Meeting Over Wal-Mart Expenses
Friday April 22, 12:08 pm ET
By Chuck Bartels, Associated Press Writer
Federal Grand Jury Is Reviewing Allegations of Misspending Within Wal-Mart Stores Inc.


LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) -- A federal grand jury is reviewing allegations of misspending within Wal-Mart Stores Inc., an investigation the world's largest retailer spurred when it handed over internal documents to the Justice Department, a company spokesman said.
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Wal-Mart spokesman Marty Heires told The Associated Press on Friday that the company is limited in what it can say about the inquiry because the probe is being handled by a grand jury.

"We have committed fully to cooperate with the federal authorities, and we're doing that," Heires said.

At the center of the investigation is an allegation that former vice chairman Tom Coughlin, who was the No. 2 figure in Wal-Mart's hierarchy before his retirement last year, misspent up to $500,000, some of it allegedly for anti-union activity.

Coughlin, through his attorney, has denied wrongdoing.

On Friday, Coughlin attorney William Taylor in Washington, D.C., would not discuss the investigation. U.S. Attorney Bob Balfe's spokesman William Cromwell in Fort Smith would not comment Friday.

Wal-Mart has strongly denied anti-union spending.

Coughlin was on Wal-Mart's board until March 25, when he resigned as the company revealed in filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that it had forwarded to federal prosecutors information on alleged improper spending. Last week, in another filing, Wal-Mart disclosed that it suspended Coughlin's benefits, potentially costing him $9.8 million in stock options.

Heires would not say whether documents or Wal-Mart employees have been subpoenaed by the grand jury. He said he did not know how long the panel has been reviewing the Wal-Mart case.

Accusations that Coughlin engaged in spending to combat union organization prompted the United Food and Commercial Workers Union to file claims of unfair labor practices. The complaint, citing a report in The Wall Street Journal, alleged Coughlin used expense account reimbursements to make secret payments to union members willing to identify pro-union Wal-Mart workers.

Coughlin's attorney has demanded that Wal-Mart provide him with documents it has provided to prosecutors so he can defend his client.

Wal-Mart shares fell 44 cents to $47.34 in midday trading on the New York Stock Exchange. The shares have traded between $47.18 and $59.15 over the past 52 weeks.
 

Murgen

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At the center of the investigation is an allegation that former vice chairman Tom Coughlin, who was the No. 2 figure in Wal-Mart's hierarchy before his retirement last year, misspent up to $500,000, some of it allegedly for anti-union activity



Accusations that Coughlin engaged in spending to combat union organization prompted the United Food and Commercial Workers Union to file claims of unfair labor practices. The complaint, citing a report in The Wall Street Journal, alleged Coughlin used expense account reimbursements to make secret payments to union members willing to identify pro-union Wal-Mart workers

Just wondering if the union members will be on trial too, for
anti-union activity
 

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