Bentonville, Ark. – Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is reportedly seeking to keep files regarding an internal probe of possible bribes paid to Mexican officials to aid real estate deals out of the hands of investors. According to Bloomberg, Wal-Mart is arguing in a case before the Delaware Supreme Court that the files in question are protected by attorney-client privilege.
In 2005, executives in Wal-Mart’s Mexican operation told senior management that at least $24 million in bribes had been paid to Mexican government officials in order to ease the process of building warehouses and stores. The payments were not disclosed in regulatory filings until 2011 and U.S. and Mexican officials are investigating whether the payments can be considered criminal.
Wal-Mart investors including the California State Teachers’ Retirement System, the New York City Employees’ Retirement System and the Indiana Electrical Workers Pension Trust Fund are seeking access to the files. A Delaware state court ruled Wal-Mart had to turn over the files in 2013, but Wal-Mart is currently appealing the ruling to the state’s highest court.