Julie Roehm Accuses Wal-Mart Ceo of 'Conflict of Interest' with Supplier

29 May 2007

CHICAGO: Former Wal-Mart marketing honcho Julie Roehm, fired last year for alleged 'conflict of interest' in accepting gifts and hospitality from DraftFCB before appointing the agency to handle the retailer's $570 million advertising account, has accused Wal-Mart ceo Lee Scott of similarly violating company rules.

Lawyers acting for Roehm (pictured above), who is suing the retailer for unfair dismissal, last week filed further documents with Michigan's federal court.

These refer to the retailer's policy of forbidding acceptance of gifts from companies with which it does business, and claim that "many Wal-Mart executives do not abide by Wal-Mart's allegedly firm policy forbidding conflicts of interest."

In particular Roehm cites Scott's relationship with entrepreneur Irwin Jacobs, whose main recreational boat-building business is the largest in the US. Wearing a different company hat, Jacobs also buys unsold Wal-Mart merchandise.

While, donning jauntier headgear adorned with fishing flies, he also owns FLW Outdoors, a professional coarse fishing company, whose bass fishing tours have been Wal-Mart's principal sports sponsorship since 2000.

Roehm's document also avers that Scott had bought yachts from Jacobs's boat-building company at preferential rates. While, also via Jacobs, he had acquired "a large pink diamond for his wife".

Wal-Mart said it would address in court all the issues raised in Roehm's filing. "Certainly, we dispute the allegations involving our ceo and Irwin Jacobs," the company huffed.

And, interviewed by the Wall Street Journal, Jacobs denied offering Scott discounts, dismissing the allegations as "totally outrageous".

Whatever the court may eventually decide, the wraiths of St Augustine and English Renaissance dramatist Ben Jonson are seemingly rooting for the appellant - despite historical spelling variances.

"Roehm has spoken; the case is concluded," quoth the former; The voice of Roehm is the consent of heaven!" concurred the latter.

Data sourced from Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff