Will This Scandal Force Out Top Wal-Mart Execs?

Walmart employees have started an online petition calling for the resignation of the retailer’s chairman and chief executive officer in the wake of bribery scandal that has put parent Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE:WMT) under a heavy scrutiny from both the public and federal regulators.

Venezi Luna, a deli manager who works at a Walmart near Los Angeles, started the online petition on Thursday, gathering over 4,300 signatures by early Friday afternoon. Luna said she hopes to get 10,000 online signatures or more.

The petition calls for the resignation of Wal-Mart Chairman S. Robson Walton and CEO Mike Duke, as well as for “a thorough and independent investigation by a highly-respected external organization.”

Luna, who is from Mexico, is a member of an employees group aimed at improving conditions for the retailer’s workers. The New York Times last week reported that Wal-Mart’s Mexican subsidiary, Wal-Mart de Mexico, made suspect payments totaling $24 million to grease the wheels for rapid expansion in the country, where it is the single biggest retailer.

The Times report also claimed top executives knew of the alleged bribery and colluded to bury evidence rather than thoroughly investigating the wrongdoings and bringing them to the attention of government authorities. Duke, who became head of Wal-Mart’s international business in 2005, is one of the executives who is alleged to have known of the situation at the time, according to the Times.

Wal-Mart is now facing a criminal probe by the U.S. Department of Justice over potential violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which forbids any U.S. company from bribing foreign officials, even if the practice is not outlawed in the foreign countries in which it operates.

Both the Mexican attorney general’s office and the comptroller’s office have promised to investigate whether the retailer bribed officials to expand its business.

Wal-Mart shares were up 0.14 percent today at close, but have fallen more than 5 percent this week.