UPDATE 1-Wal-Mart loses bid to keep documents on bribery probe from shareholder

miércoles 23 de julio de 2014 19:27 GYT

(Adds details from ruling, background on investigation)

By Tom Hals

July 23 (Reuters) - The Delaware Supreme Court affirmed on Wednesday a lower court ruling that ordered Wal-Mart Stores Inc to provide a shareholder with documents related to the company's internal probe of allegations the retailer had paid bribes in Mexico.

Wal-Mart had appealed a ruling by Delaware's lower Court of Chancery that ordered the company to produce documents to an Indiana union pension trust, which owns the company's stock. The trust had sued Wal-Mart for access to the documents, saying it needed them to determine if the company's board breached duties to shareholders by failing to investigate bribery allegations.

Wal-Mart did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The alleged bribes and cover-up first came to light with a New York Times story in 2012 which reported that the company's Mexican unit had been making illicit payments since 2005 to obtain permits needed to open new stores.

The story said Wal-Mart's investigators found evidence of widespread payments and suspected that laws had been broken. The story also said Wal-Mart leaders rejected an investigator's recommendation to expand the investigation and instead covered it up.

Wal-Mart is under investigation by U.S. and Mexican authorities who are trying to determine if crimes were committed.

To determine if Wal-Mart's board properly investigated, the Indiana Electrical Workers Pension Trust Fund IBEW exercised its right as a stockholder in 2012 to demand the company provide certain documents. Eventually a dispute over information requested led the trust to sue in Delaware, where Bentonville, Arkansas-based Wal-Mart is incorporated.   Continuación...