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Delaware judge reprimands two plaintiffs in Wal-Mart bribery case

Pension funds reportedly filed sloppy complaints in their rush to be named lead plaintiff

Two pension funds suing Wal-Mart Stores Inc. for allegedly covering up widespread bribery apparently forgot they were on the same side in the case, earning a tongue-lashing from a Delaware judge.

Leo Strine refused to grant the title of lead plaintiff to either the California State Teachers’ Retirement System or New York City’s public pension fund, instead telling the two parties to work together and bolster their flimsy complaints with additional evidence.

The two pension funds are among several organizations suing Wal-Mart’s officers and board of directors for breach of fiduciary duty to the company and its shareholders. But in their quest for the title of lead plaintiff, which would allow their lawyers to manage litigation for other plaintiffs, both groups filed sloppy complaints based largely on media reports, according to Judge Strine.

He asked the warring pension funds to stop their “file-first Olympics” and demand corporate records from Wal-Mart itself. "Why do you want to file a weak complaint when you can investigate and file a strong one?" he asked in a hearing Monday. "How does that serve the interests of the investors in the company that you supposedly represent?"

In April, the New York Times wrote that Wal-Mart had allegedly covered up massive corruption by employees at its Mexican subsidiary, Wal-Mart de Mexico, who reportedly bribed local officials to the tune of $24 million.

Read more on the story at Reuters.

For more InsideCounsel coverage of the Wal-Mart bribery scandal, see below:

Wal-Mart lawyers highlight 5 countries with highest bribery risk

New York City files suit against Wal-Mart over bribery scandal

Siemens’ GC talks to NPR about bribery

Wal-Mart scrambles to address FCPA violation accusation

Wal-Mart may have covered up bribery in Mexico

Alanna Byrne

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