Wal-Mart, Disgraced Ex-Exec Settle Retirement Dispute

August 26, 2008 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - Retail giant Wal-Mart Stores has agreed to pay a former executive $6.75 million to settle a retirement benefits dispute sparked when the company revoked the executive's $17-million benefits agreement after he was accused of misusing company property.

Wal-Mart announced the settlement with former Vice Chairman Thomas M. Coughlin in a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) regulatory filing.

The retailer filed suit against Coughlin in July 2005 to void Coughlin’s benefits agreement after he was accused of misappropriating hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash and company property. The suit was dismissed by an Arkansas state judge but later reinstated by an appellate court (See  AR High Court Breathes New Life into Wal-Mart Exec Fraud Suit ).

Coughlin’s departure from Wal-Mart after he was accused of misappropriating property was marked by controversy, including media reports that Coughlin made payments to individuals seeking information on union organizing activities and later sought reimbursement from the company for the payments. Coughlin later pleaded guilty to charges of wire fraud and income tax violations.

The company suspended payment of Coughlin’s retirement benefits and on June 10, 2005, informed the former executive that Wal-Mart was rescinding Coughlin’s retirement agreement because of his “scheme to misappropriate corporate funds and property for his own personal benefit.”

The regulatory filing is available here .