Wal-Mart CEO to be questioned in U.S. lawsuit over Mexican bribery

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF REUTERS)

Wal-Mart CEO to be questioned in U.S. lawsuit over Mexican bribery

By Jonathan Stempel

A federal judge on Thursday ordered Wal-Mart Stores Inc (WMT.N) Chief Executive Douglas McMillon to submit to questioning in a lawsuit by shareholders hoping to learn what he knows about suspected bribery by the world’s largest retailer in Mexico.

U.S. District Judge Susan Hickey in Fayetteville, Arkansas, said McMillon’s “direct and personal involvement” in matters underlying a class-action lawsuit justified requiring him to sit for a deposition by the shareholders’ lawyers.

McMillon had been president of Wal-Mart International during a period when shareholders led by a Michigan pension fund said the retailer concealed suspected bribery by its Wal-Mart de Mexico unit to government officials, to speed up store openings.

The Bentonville, Arkansas-based retailer had argued that McMillon lacked the “unique or special knowledge” to justify burdening him with a deposition.

But the judge said McMillon, who became chief executive in February 2014, took part in several meetings, saw dozens of communications, and had certified many public statements by Wal-Mart about the alleged bribery.

“It appears to the court that McMillon has unique knowledge of relevant issues in this litigation that only he can explain,” Hickey wrote. A deposition could last four hours, she added.

Wal-Mart had no immediate comment.

Jason Forge, a lawyer for the lead plaintiff City of Pontiac General Employees’ Retirement System, said in an email: “We’re determined to try this case in court.”

Wal-Mart’s market value slid $17 billion over three days in April 2012 after the New York Times reported the alleged bribery and said it had been first discovered internally in 2005.

Shareholders accused Wal-Mart and Mike Duke, who preceded McMillon as chief executive, of downplaying the scheme even after learning about the Times’ investigation.

The class period runs from Dec. 8, 2011 to April 20, 2012.

Earlier this week, Bloomberg News said Wal-Mart may pay about $300 million to settle a U.S. government probe into suspected bribery in Mexico, India and China, citing people familiar with the matter.

A $300 million payment would represent about one week of profit for Wal-Mart.

The case is City of Pontiac General Employees’ Retirement System v. Wal-Mart Stores Inc et al, U.S. District Court, Western District of Arkansas, No. 12-05162.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Tom Brown)

Donald Trump thinks he invented the phrase ‘priming the pump.’ That’s telling

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

Donald Trump thinks he invented the phrase ‘priming the pump.’ That’s telling.

President Donald Trump walks from Marine One across the South Lawn to the White House in Washington, Sunday, May 7, 2017, as he returns from Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J.

(CNN) There’s a very odd — and telling — moment in President Donald Trump’s interview with The Economist released Thursday morning. Here it is:

TRUMP: We have to prime the pump.
ECONOMIST: It’s very Keynesian.
TRUMP: We’re the highest-taxed nation in the world. Have you heard that expression before, for this particular type of an event?
ECONOMIST: Priming the pump?
TRUMP: Yeah, have you heard it?
ECONOMIST: Yes.
TRUMP: Have you heard that expression used before? Because I haven’t heard it. I mean, I just…I came up with it a couple of days ago and I thought it was good. It’s what you have to do.
Trump, quite clearly, believes he came up with the phrase “prime the pump.” Or at least that he is the first person to use it in regards the potential kick-starting effect of tax cuts on an economy.
Not so, according to the increasingly cheeky Twitter account of the Merriam Webster Dictionary that noted shortly after Trump made the claim that “the phrase ‘priming the pump’ dates to the early 19th century,” adding: “‘Pump priming’ has been used to refer to government investment expenditures since at least 1933.”
A simple slip of the tongue by Trump? I don’t think so.
Here’s the thing with Trump: He is someone who has always created his own version of events and reality. One of his tried and true tactics as a businessman was, no matter the outcome of a deal, to declare victory and move on. He would aim to win the next day’s press story — knowing that for lots of people not paying close attention that would be all they would hear.
And he didn’t stop doing it once he became a candidate for president. He would simply say things — Muslims were celebrating on the roofs in northern New Jersey after 9/11, Ted Cruz’s father might have been involved in JFK’s assassination (or maybe he wasn’t!), all the polls showed him beating Hillary Clinton — that weren’t factually true but seemed right to him. His gut — the much-ballyhooed origin of most of Trump’s political instincts — told him this stuff was right, so who were fact checkers and biased media types to tell him — or his supporters — differently?
Trump kept building his own world once in the White House. He would have won the popular vote except for the 3 to 5 million votes cast by undocumented immigrants. His inauguration crowd was the biggest ever. His first 100 days were among the most successful of any president ever. And so on and on and on.
It didn’t matter that all of these things were provably false. What mattered (and matters) is that Trump believed them. That made them truth to him.
Which brings us back to him inventing the phrase “prime the pump.” Of course he didn’t do that. But Trump came up with it in relation to his tax reform plan — raising the deficit in the near term via tax cuts in the belief they will “prime the pump” for future economic growth — so he, naturally, believed he was the first one to think it up.
That takes some significant self-regard. But also a sense that if you say it, it must be new and true. And Donald Trump believes that whatever he says is, by definition, new and true.