Wal-Mart fires a board member

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. fired its former vice chairman from its board Friday after an internal probe allegedly revealed padded expense reports, fake invoices, and unauthorized use of gift cards, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Thomas M. Coughlin, who retired as an executive of the world’s largest retailer in January, was asked to resign his post as a director. Three other Wal-Mart employees, including a company executive, were fired. The company reportedly said in a regulatory filing that the amounts in question could total $500,000.

The Bentonville, Ark.-based company said it reported the results of its investigation to federal officials, the newspaper reports.

Coughlin reportedly said in his resignation letter: “I leave with warm feelings for the company and all the people who have made it great. I have appreciated the opportunity to serve.”

The 55-year-old Coughlin, who spent decades with Wal-Mart, was once considered a candidate to head the company, the newspaper reports. He started in 1978 in the security division and eventually oversaw the U.S. Wal-Mart stores, Sam’s Club warehouse stores, and Walmart.com.

He joined the board in April 2003 and had been a member of the board’s executive, strategic planning and finance and stock option committees. He had been expected to step down in June.

Coughlin also serves as lead director on the board of ChoicePoint Inc., the Atlanta-based information broker under fire for security breaches that exposed as many as 145,000 personal data files to identity theft rings.