Wal-Mart Explains Firing of Former Vice President

July 15, 2005 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - In its response to a complaint filed with the Department of Labor (DoL), Wal-Mart Stores said former vice president Jared Bowen was involved in a scheme to "misappropriate corporate assests for the personal benefit of " former vice chairman Thomas Coughlin.

In March Bowen filed a complaint with the Labor Department, arguing that he was dismissed, in violation of federal whistle-blower protection laws, for helping uncover the misspending by Coughlin.   The New York Times reports that he asked the DoL to order Wal-Mart to restore him to his position and compensate him for lost wages.

In a company  press release , Wal-Mart said that Bowen was not a whistleblower and that the scheme, centered in the department for which Bowen was personally responsible,included theft of Wal-Mart property, fraudulent acquisition of Wal-Mart gift cards, and falsified invoices and expense reports that were used to funnel cash to Coughlin and finance his personal acquisitions.   They also said that his whistleblowing was an action to take suspicion off of himself.

Bowen was fired after what Wal-Mart called “an extraordinarily professional investigation” by two former high-level FBI officials, two former United States Attorneys, and the former Director of the Arkansas State Police.

The company said that its decision to fire Bowen was consistent with its treatment of other company officers who breached their fiduciary duties by engaging in misconduct or withholding information from company investigators and consistent with guidelines of the United States Department of Justice on how public companies should respond when corporate officers engage in serious misconduct.