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Sep
2012
24

Employing Great Tact, Indiana IBEW Pension Fund Becomes Lead Plaintiff in Wal-Mart Mexican Bribery Case

If retail titan Wal-Mart is successfully sued for a suspected bribery scheme in Mexico, it will likely be thanks to a small union pension fund which acts as a shareholder in the company. The Indiana Electrical Workers Pension Trust Fund IBEW has taken necessary measures to become the lead plaintiff in legal actions against Wal-Mart’s officers who allegedly failed their shareholders by stifling an internal probe.

The union pension fund, made up of 500 retirees and 2,500 electricians, holds just $750,000 of Wal-Mart’s $253 billion in stock, yet they have made the biggest waves of all the company’s investors by attempting to conduct their own investigation after whistle blower documents were mailed to their Delaware attorney’s office.

While other larger shareholders such as the California State Teachers’ Retirement System and a similar New York City group relied on a New York Times exposé as the basis of their lawsuit, a judge recently named the Indiana union pension fund the lead plaintiff in the case due to their approach of requesting documents for their own review. According to the Courier-Journal:

After requesting the documents from Wal-Mart, the Indiana pension fund’s Delaware-based attorneys received a cache of whistleblower documents that they say substantiated numerous facts about bribes reported in the Times’ article, according to court records filed by the pension fund.

Stuart Grant, the pension fund’s attorney, said his firm was eager to track down the anonymous informant, but the return address on the package was a fake, he said.

In August, Wal-Mart responded to the pension fund’s demand for records, providing 3,474 documents. However, nearly half the documents were completely blacked out, according to the pension fund’s court filings.

Calling the company’s efforts “woefully deficient,” the pension fund filed an Aug. 13 lawsuit in Delaware court accusing Wal-Mart of improperly withholding pertinent records. The pension fund argued that its non-redacted whistleblower documents — which have not been made public — show that Wal-Mart blacked out information that was not confidential and should have been made available.

Judge Leo Stine of Delaware’s Court of Chancery agreed and now unmolested documents are being provided by Wal-Mart under the auspices of a confidentially agreement. With the Indiana Electrical Workers Pension Trust Fund IBEW taking the lead, shareholders may finally be able to demand answers about the wrongdoings of officials in Mexico.

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