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Bloomberg reports that the Delaware Supreme Court has ruled that Walmart must turn over to investors "internal documents about what directors and executives knew of alleged bribes tied to Mexican real-estate deals," saying that the "investors showed the documents were essential to their investigation of the bribery and how the internal investigation was handled."

The ruling supported a lower court ruling that pension funds holding Walmart stock had a right to the documents. Walmart replied that the ruling was simply procedural and had nothing to do with the merits of the allegations; the company noted that its internal probe is continuing.

Walmart has been accused of bribing local officials in Mexico to grease the wheels of its growth there, and subsequently there have been charges that it engaged in similar behavior in places like China, India and Brazil.

In addition to its own probe, Walmart also has been cooperating with what has turned into a multi-year, multi-agency federal investigation into its behavior, which also has not been concluded.

The big question goes beyond how bribes were being paid on the ground, and focuses on what Walmart senior officials knew about the practice and when they knew it.
KC's View:
The irony is that Walmart seems to have spent a lot more money on the various probes and the lawyers needed to deal with them than it ever did on bribes.

I think it is a good thing that the documents have to be turned over to investors … because maybe that's what's needed to give some momentum to bringing the multiple investigations to some sort of conclusion. Of course, the betting here is that the results won't be positive for some of the folks who used to run Walmart … and, in fact, one of the reasons for the delay is to give the current regime some distance and what the Nixon administration used to call "plausible deniability."