BENTONVILLE, Ark. -- Scandal is haunting Wal-Mart Stores, even as the world's largest retailer spends millions to improve its reputation.
Wal-Mart revealed that its former vice chairman, Thomas Coughlin, had been asked to resign from the company board after an internal investigation indicated the possible misappropriation of $100,000 to $500,000 in corporate funds.
In a statement filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Wal-Mart said it had referred the case to the U.S. Attorney's office for the Western District of Arkansas. It said it's cooperating with investigators.
The company did not return calls seeking further comment, and federal prosecutors would not comment. Coughlin could not be reached, but in a resignation letter to S. Robson Walton, chairman, he said he was leaving with "warm feelings for the company" and that he "appreciated the opportunity to serve."
Wal-Mart did not indicate in the filing with securities regulators what specific role Coughlin, who in December retired as vice chairman for unspecified reasons, had played in the filing of false expense reports. Three other employees, including one company officer, were fired as well.
Wal-Mart's probe focused on "alleged unauthorized use of corporate-owned gift cards and personal reimbursements that appear to have been obtained from the company through the reporting of false information on third-party invoices and company expense reports," the company said in the SEC filing.