Wal-Mart wins dismissal of Mexico bribery lawsuit
By Tom Hals
WILMINGTON, Del. May 13 (Reuters) - A Delaware judge on Friday dismissed a lawsuit by Wal-Mart Stores Inc. shareholders who accused the board of the world's largest retailer of trying to cover up bribes paid by company executives in Mexico.
Chancellor Andre Bouchard of the Court of Chancery in Wilmington said an earlier dismissal by an Arkansas judge of a nearly identical lawsuit by another group of shareholders precluded the Delaware case from going forward.
He said that while the Arkansas plaintiffs may have chosen to rush their case rather than fully investigate alleged wrongdoing, their haste did not disqualify them from representing Wal-Mart shareholders.
Friday's decision is a loss for the California State Teachers' Retirement System (CalSTRS) and New York City pension funds that had brought the Delaware case. Their lawyer, Stuart Grant, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The litigation stemmed from a 2012 New York Times investigation that found Wal-Mart had engaged in a multi-year bribery campaign to build its Wal-Mart de Mexico business.
According to the newspaper, Wal-Mart sent investigators to Mexico City and found a paper trail of suspect payments totaling more than $24 million.
However, top executives shut down the internal probe and did not notify U.S. or Mexican law enforcement until after the newspaper had informed Wal-Mart that it was looking into the issue.
The Delaware lawsuit sought to hold Wal-Mart directors liable for damages they caused the Bentonville, Arkansas-based retailer, in what is known as a derivative lawsuit. Successful derivative cases usually result in corporate governance changes. Continuación...