Former Wal-Mart Marketing Exec Lashes Back at Retailer's CEO

A fired Wal-Mart Storesmarketing executive has accused the retailer's chief executive of violating its ethics policy by accepting discounts on yachts, diamonds and personal gifts from vendors and others eager to work with the company.

Wal-Mart and former marketing communications chief Julie Roehm have both filed suits over her December dismissal after less than a year at the world's largest retailer.

Roehm sued for breach of contract. In a March countersuit, Wal-Mart accused her of accepting gifts from an advertising agency that was later chosen to handle the retailer's ad account.

In papers filed on Thursday in Detroit federal court, Roehm said it was Wal-Mart's top brass who violated the company's strict ethics policies.

Chief Executive H. Lee Scott had received "preferential prices" on yachts and "a large pink diamond for his wife" through his relationship with Irwin Jacobs, she said. One of Jacobs' companies, Jacobs Trading, has the exclusive right to buy unsold Wal-Mart merchandise.

"While Wal-Mart asserts that it has policies which prohibit conflicts of interest and the misuse of Wal-Mart assets and opportunities, those policies do not seem to prevent its executives from using both to personal advantage," the filing said. Roehm also accused a group of executives, including the company's executive vice president of marketing, John Fleming, of violating the ethics policy by accepting $300 tickets and back stage passes to an Eagles rock concert during a meeting with vendors in Barcelona, Spain.

Wal-Mart also has accused Roehm of misusing company travel funds on business trips with a subordinate with whom, it said, she was romantically involved.

"This lawsuit is about Julie Roehm and her misconduct. Her document shows how weak her case is," John Simley, a Wal-Mart spokesman, said.