Pensions Agree to Co-Lead Wal-Mart Bribery Suit

September 5, 2012 ( - Lawsuits regarding Wal-Mart Stores'  handling of allegations that it paid bribes in Mexico will be consolidated and led by three pension funds.

Bloomberg reports that pension funds from New York, California and Indiana have agreed to serve as co-lead plaintiffs in cases accusing Wal-Mart’s directors of bribing Mexican officials to help fuel the company’s growth in the country, lawyers for the funds and Wal-Mart said in a Delaware Chancery Court filing. “The moving parties have conferred and agree, subject to this court’s approval, that the actions should be consolidated for all purposes into a single consolidated action,” the filing said, according to Bloomberg.   

The California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS), the New York City Employees’ Retirement System and the Indiana Electrical Workers Pension Trust Fund contend that Wal-Mart officials may have violated the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977 and other anti-bribery statutes in connection with the alleged payments to Mexican officials. In addition, the Indiana fund has sued to force Wal-Mart to hand over records about internal probes of the bribery allegations and contends that the company had been “woefully deficient” in producing documents, the news report said.   

In July, a judge from the Delaware Court of Chancery scolded attorneys representing public pension funds for rushing into the lawsuits (see “Judge Scolds Pension Funds for Rushing into Wal-Mart Case”). Chancellor Leo Strine Jr. denied competing motions from CalSTRS and the New York City pension fund seeking appointment as lead plaintiff with lead counsel in the lawsuit. He urged them to work together.