US federal probe against the multinational retail giant Walmart has revealed that it paid bribes worth millions of dollars in India.
A report published in The Wall Street Journal said that ‘investigators found evidence of bribery in India, centering on widespread but relatively small payments made to local officials there.’
“The vast majority of the suspicious payments were less than $200, and some were as low as $5, the people said, but when added together they totalled millions of dollars,” the daily said.
Wal-Mart is likely to face U.S. foreign-bribery charges under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act over those payments
Wal-Mart spokesman Greg Hitt declined to discuss the particulars of the investigation, but said the company is “cooperating fully with the government in this matter.’’
In 2013, Walmart shelved plans to open retail stores in India by severing a joint venture with Bharti Enterprises Ltd and instead decided to become solely a wholesaler, the report said.
Walmart’s “suspected bribery” unearthed in India involves thousands of small payments to low-level local officials to help move goods through customs or obtain real-estate permits.
Walmart, which was pushing the previous UPA regime for opening of the multi-brand retail sector was also involved in lobbying before the U.S. Congress in this regard, Congressional disclosure reports have said in the past few years.
American federal probe agency was investigating Wal-Mart of widespread corruption in its stores in Mexico when it stumbled upon the instances of wrongdoings in India,
The suspected bribery in India involved allegations of thousands of small payments to low-level local officials to help move goods through customs or obtain real-estate permits, according to people familiar with the investigation.