Japanese Authorities Launch Wal-Mart Trading Probe

Authorities in Japan have reportedly opened an investigation into possible insider trading involving shares of Seiyu, a Japanese subsidiary of Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer. The report surfaced on the Nikkei’s business daily website on Tuesday.

It is believed the insider trading took place when Wal-Mart made Seiyu a fully owned unit in 2007, according to the report, which cited anonymous sources. Wal-Mart officials have so far declined to comment, other than to reiterate a statement made on November 5th, when the allegations first surfaced, that they would fully cooperate with Japan’s Securities and Exchange Surveillance Commission in any investigation. Authorities have likewise declined to comment on the ongoing investigation.

Wal-Mart first entered the Japanese market in 2002 when it purchased a 6.1 percent stake in Seiyu. Shares of the company closed at 87 yen the day before Wal-Mart purchased a controlling share in the company, and a man who is the husband of a Seiyu board member allegedly made at least 7 million yen the following day when the announcement was made and the stock shot up to 117 yen per share. The stock would eventually be delisted from the Tokyo Stock Exchange in April 2008.