Wal-Mart rocked by expenses scandal

The former vice-chairman of Wal-Mart faces a maximum prison sentence of 28 years and a $1.35m (£757,000) fine after pleading guilty to fiddling his expenses to buy a bizarre range of items, including a 12-bore shotgun, a Celine Dion CD and a large Polish sausage.

Thomas Coughlin resigned as the deputy of the world’s largest retailer last March after it was revealed that he used about $500,000 (£283,000) worth of company gift cards to buy items for himself, while claiming they were to be given to staff as bonuses.

It was also alleged that Coughlin had claimed thousands of dollars in expenses for other personal items. These included a $1,000 (£567) pair of hand-made alligator boots and a bottle of vodka.

Coughlin had said that the expenses were payment in kind for a covert anti-union spying operation the retailer was running – an allegation that is strenuously denied by the company.

But last week, he accepted responsibility and expressed regret for his actions.

“Today I accepted responsibility for serious personal mistakes in judgement,” he said. “This was not an easy decision. I regret the embarrassment this matter has caused my family and friends and I thank them for their support, love and friendship. I am glad to put this matter to an end.”

Coughlin is expected to be sentenced in about three months’ time.

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