Walmart to Mudgal panel: Lobbied in US not India

The government inquiry committee on Walmart has found no direct charge of bribery or lobbying made by the company in India,according to an official.

Written by Shruti Srivastava | New Delhi | Published: May 17, 2013 3:04 am

The government inquiry committee on Walmart has found no direct charge of bribery or lobbying made by the company in India,according to an official.

The committee headed by former Chief Justice of Punjab and Haryana High Court Mukul Mudgal is expected to submit its report on Tuesday where it is also expected to suggest defining lobbying and framing rules for the same in India by companies and individuals. The government is probing allegations that the retail giant had spent money to influence Indian officials to get an access to the Indian market.

These follow from disclosures made by the Bentonville-headquartered company in its quarterly report to the US Senate that it had lobbied with the US lawmakers.

The Mudgal committee set by the government has not found any direct evidence of involvement of the retail major in any illegal activity in India. The inquiry was the result of an uproar that the company had influenced the Indian government policy to allow foreign direct investment into multi-brand retail for up to 51 per cent.

The official said that in the replies furnished by the US-based retailer,the company has clarified that the amount disclosed by it in its quarterly report was spent for enhanced market access for investment in India. It was spent on the US lobbyists and senators only and not for any Indian individuals or politicians. The amount spent in the US is legal,the company told the panel. Lobbying disclosure has to be made by companies and their lobbyists every quarter to the US Senate.

Justice Mudgal refused to comment for this news story when contacted by The Indian Express.

“Since the amount was not spent in India,there is no case for violating Indian laws,” the official said. The US retailer has also told the one-man committee that the only amount it has spent in India includes salaries for its employees and other such items.

After the Walmart disclosures the India government in December 2012 had assured Parliament it will get the matter probed by a retired judge.

In its disclosure reports the company spent close to $25 million (about Rs 125 crore) since 2008 on its various lobbying activities,including on the issues related to enhanced market access for investment in India.

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