Wal-Mart Turns Investigation Over to Authorities
By George Anderson
An internal investigation by Wal-Mart into “the alleged unauthorized use of corporate-owned gift cards and personal reimbursements that appear to have been obtained … through the reporting of false information on third-party invoices and Company expense reports” has resulted in the retailer dismissing several employees as well as asking the former president and CEO of the company’s stores, Tom Coughlin, to resign from the company’s board of directors.
Wal-Mart, reports The Associated Press, asked for Mr. Coughlin’s resignation after “a disagreement” over the company’s findings and his “knowledge” of the alleged offenses. According to the AP, the alleged “financial improprieties” were said to have cost the company between $100,000 and $500,000.
In a released statement, Wal-Mart said it had turned the findings of its investigation over to the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas and that it would have no further comment on the matter.
Moderator’s Comment: Have American business people lost their ethical/moral compass? Are the ethical lapses Wal-Mart has found within its own business
representative of the greater business community as a whole?
For all those who have made a hobby, if not a career, out of pillorying Wal-Mart for the way in which it treats its store-level associates, it should be
acknowledged the company has established ethical standards for the way its headquarters’ personnel act and has been decisive when breaches of its rules have been found to have
That said, we have to admit being somewhat troubled that such incidents continue to take place. As you may recall, Wal-Mart fired seven individuals back
in December (See RetailWire 12/16/04, Source: Wal-Mart Execs Fired Over Integrity
Breach) for what one unidentified source told the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal and the Benton County Daily Record were mistakes in “personal judgment
pertaining to integrity issues.”
Why do these errors in personal judgment in ethical matters continue to happen at Wal-Mart and elsewhere? When will individuals refrain from unethical actions
simply because they are wrong rather than factoring in their chances of getting caught?
During his life, Mohandas Gandhi identified what he called the seven social sins. These were politics without principle, wealth without work, commerce without
morality, pleasure without conscience, education without character, science without humanity and worship without sacrifice. Sometimes we can’t help wondering if Gandhi’s social
sins have become the standard of success in the modern world. –
George Anderson – Moderator
- Wal-Mart director resigns after investigation – The Associated Press/Chicago Sun-Times
- Wal-Mart Statement Regarding
Coughlin Board Resignation & Internal Investigation – Wal-Mart Stores