Walmart lobbying case in India closed: Report

Last Updated: Sunday, May 19, 2013 - 08:59

Zee Media Bureau

New Delhi: Lack of evidence has closed the investigation of whether Wal-Mart bribed officials to gain wider access in Indian market, a newspaper reported on Saturday.

The one-man committee of former chief justice of Punjab and Haryana High Court Mukul Mudgal, probing the matter for the last few months, said there was no "adequate" evidence to suggest Wal-Mart was involved in any unlawful activity in India, the Business Standard reported.

A committee submitted its report to Corporate Affairs Minister Sachin Pilot on Saturday. No details of the report were immediately available

However, the newspaper which quoted unnamed sources also said, that the report may not say Wal-Mart did not bribe any Indian official or contravene Indian rules while trying to gain wider access to the market here. However, it is likely to state that there was no adequate evidence to suggest that Walmart was involved in any unlawful activity in India.

The Cabinet had cleared up to 51 percent foreign direct investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail in September 2012.

The US based retail giant is yet to make a proposal to the government for opening retail stores in India.

Since 2009, Walmart, in a 50-50 joint venture with Bharti, operate 20 stores in the cash-and-carry segment, a sector where 100 percent FDI is permitted.

The panel, which was set up in January this year, looked into "whether Walmart undertook any activities in India in contravention of any Indian law", and any other matter relevant to this issue.

In the wake of intense political pressure following reports about Walmart's lobbying among the US lawmakers since 2008 for facilitating its entry into the Indian market, the government in December 2012 had assured Parliament to get the matter probed by a retired judge.

As per Congressional records of lobbying disclosure reports, the company spent a total amount of USD 6.13 million (about Rs 33 crore) on lobbying for various issues, including on "discussions related to FDI in India", during entire 2012.

The tenure of the committee, which was expected to present its report by April 30, was extended. The panel, which met five times, had also interacted with Walmart representatives besides gathering responses from the public on the matter.

The Corporate Affairs Ministry is providing the administrative support to the committee.

With PTI Inputs

First Published: Saturday, May 18, 2013 - 18:05

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