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Home Depot fires four in alleged kickback scheme

They are accused of accepting as much as $1 million from vendors.

August 01, 2007|From the Associated Press

ATLANTA — Four merchandising managers at Home Depot Inc. have been fired for allegedly accepting kickbacks totaling as much as $1 million to supply stores with flooring products bought from certain foreign vendors, the company said Tuesday.

Jerry Shields, a spokesman for Home Depot, described the three men and one woman as lower-level managers. They were terminated two weeks ago for "not following company ethics and business conduct." He could not say how long the employees had worked for Home Depot.

The products involved tile and other flooring made by foreign vendors, Shields said, without elaborating.

Shields declined to identify either the vendors -- other than to say they were based in Asia -- or the employees.

Home Depot, the world's largest home improvement store chain, said in a statement that it was cooperating with authorities and that the matter was under investigation.

It wasn't immediately clear whether any criminal charges had been or would be brought.

"It is important to note that this matter does not have a material effect on our consolidated financial conditions or results of operations," Home Depot said. "Maintaining our ethical standards is of utmost importance to the Home Depot and is something we enforce strongly."

Atlanta-based Home Depot said an unidentified person brought the matter to its attention, and the company started reviewing the situation immediately. The company declined to identify the tipster.

The company said it believed the employees received as much as $1 million in kickbacks.

Home Depot operates more than 2,000 stores in the United States, Canada, Mexico and China.

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