Friday, April 8, 2005

Former Wal-Mart Exec May Have Filed False Documents with Company to Fund Anti-Union Campaign

As discussed in an earlier post (here), former Wal-Mart executive and board member Thomas Coughlin was forced out of the company in late March because of falsified expense reports that the company said was in the $100,000-500,000 range.  I asked why someone with Coughlin's resources (both pay and stock ownership) would risk his career for a comparatively paltry amount, and the answer may be that he was hiding payments as part of a "union project" to keep unions from organizing Wal-Mart workers.  A front-page story in the Wall Street Journal (here) details how Coughlin told a junior Wal-Mart executive to process a reimbursement without any supporting documentation because it was for payments to union organizers to gain information about efforts to unionize Wal-Mart employees.  The company has long resisted unionization efforts, and relations with organizers have been frosty, to say the least.  Wal-Mart denies that any payments were made to union officials, which would be a criminal violation of the Taft-Hartley Act (29 U.S.C. Sec. 186 here), and documents about the expense reimbursement include a payment for alligator skin boots for Coughlin.  In addition to Coughlin, his deputy, Robert Hey, has also been fired by Wal-Mart as part of the investigation of improper payments.  The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Arkansas is conducting the criminal investigation, and it will be interesting to see if this is a case of petty corruption or something much larger involving Wal-Mart as a perpetrator rather than the victim. (ph)

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» UFCW Files Complaint Against Wal-Mart from White Collar Crime Prof Blog
The United Food and Commercial Workers Union has filed a complaint against Wal-Mart asking the NLRB to investigate allegations that former executive Thomas Coughlin submitted false invoices to finance an anti-union campaign that included secret payment... [Read More]

Tracked on Apr 14, 2005 2:40:21 AM