May 17, 2013

Already public documents remain part of bribery lawsuit

Bloomberg News

WILMINGTON, Del. - Walmart Stores can't block investors from using publicly disclosed internal files in lawsuits that claim directors failed to properly oversee executives accused of bribing Mexican officials, a judge said Thursday.

Pension funds that are suing Walmart can rely on emails and other records published by the New York Times and two congressmen to make the case that the company must provide more information about the board's probe of the scandal, said Delaware Chancery Court Judge Leo Strine.

"You don't strike from a public proceeding material that is already public," Strine told Walmart's lawyers at a hearing in Wilmington.

He did bar the pension funds from using any documents that hadn't already been made public and ordered them returned to Walmart.

Walmart, based in Bentonville, Ark., faces a trial Monday on the pension funds' claims that the world's largest retailer hasn't turned over relevant documents showing when directors learned about the bribes and how thoroughly the allegations were investigated.

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