Coughlin Resigns from Wal-Mart Board in Wake of Probe

BENTONVILLE, Ark. – Wal-Mart Stores Inc. here said Friday it had asked director Thomas Coughlin, the company's former vice chairman, to resign from the board in the wake of an investigation into the use of corporate-owned gift cards and personal reimbursements.

Wal-Mart said Coughlin disagreed with the company about the results of its investigation, which involves an estimated $100,000 to $500,000 in disputed funds, according to Wal-Mart. The retailer also said it had fired three employees, including one officer, over the investigation. It did not name the three employees.

The company's investigation involves the alleged unauthorized use of corporate-owned gift cards and personal reimbursements that "appear" to have been obtained through falsified third-party invoices and expense reports, Wal-Mart said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

In the SEC filing, Wal-Mart said it reported the results of its investigation to the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas. The company said it did so based on the results of its investigation, and Coughlin's response to questions about his knowledge of certain transactions.

Coughlin served on the board since 2001, according to a proxy last April. He held posts on the board's finance, executive and stock option committees.

In January, Coughlin retired as Wal-Mart's vice chairman -- the No. 2 executive position -- after a 25-year career at the Bentonville, Ark.-based company. He had been expected to serve out his remaining board term through the company's shareholder meeting on June 3.
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