Former Wal-Mart vice chairman Tom Coughlin yesterday (31 January) pleaded guilty to five counts of wire fraud and one charge of filing a false tax return. He now faces a maximum of a 28-year prison sentence and could be fined up to US$1.35m.

The protégé of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton, Coughlin was a top executive at the world’s largest retailer. He has admitted to stealing money, gift cards and merchandise from the company. Wal-Mart alerted federal prosecutors after learning that Coughlin had embezzled money and used expense vouchers to buy a variety of products, including snakeskin boots, hunting trips and a Celine Dion CD. Wal-Mart accused Coughlin of misappropriating as much as $500,000.

“I accepted responsibility for serious personal mistakes in judgment,” Coughlin said in a statement through his attorney. “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.”

US District Judge Robert Dawson sealed the plea agreement and sentencing will be set at a later date.

Vice president of corporate communications at Wal-Mart, Mona Williams, said: “This whole episode has been embarrassing and painful to us as a company and as individuals. Someone we expected to operate with the highest integrity let us down in a very public way. Wal-Mart has high ethical standards, and the way we handled this matter makes it clear that every associate will be held to these standards, with no exception.”

How well do you really know your competitors?

Access the most comprehensive Company Profiles on the market, powered by GlobalData. Save hours of research. Gain competitive edge.

Company Profile – free sample

Thank you!

Your download email will arrive shortly

Not ready to buy yet? Download a free sample

We are confident about the unique quality of our Company Profiles. However, we want you to make the most beneficial decision for your business, so we offer a free sample that you can download by submitting the below form

By GlobalData
Visit our Privacy Policy for more information about our services, how we may use, process and share your personal data, including information of your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications. Our services are intended for corporate subscribers and you warrant that the email address submitted is your corporate email address.

At this time, the company declined to comment beyond this statement.