India greenlights probe into Walmart lobbying
India’s cabinet on Thursday gave the green light to a retired judge to investigate whether US supermarket chain Walmart had violated any Indian laws through multi-million pound lobbying.
Walmart said in a report to the US Senate that it spent $25 million over four years on issues related to “enhanced market access for investment in India”.
The report sparked a political ruckus in New Delhi with opposition lawmakers — who are against the supermarket giant’s entry into India — calling for an inquiry into whether paid lobbying, which is banned in the country, occurred.
Walmart has maintained that it has done nothing illegal and the US State Department has also stated that in its view no laws have been broken.
But last month the Indian government said it would ask a retired judge to probe the spending, confirming on Thursday that the inquiry would proceed as planned.
The judge will “inquire into recent media reports on disclosures of Walmart before the US Senate regarding their lobbying activities and details,” a government press release said.
The judge, who has been asked to submit his report in three months, will probe whether Walmart “undertook any activities in India in contravention of any Indian law”, the release added.
Last year, the Indian government allowed foreign supermarkets to establish joint ventures in the country as part of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s policy of seeking outside investment.
[Image via AFP]