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Inquiry panel likely to meet senior Wal-Mart executives this week

Government announced a probe in December into the lobbying activities by Wal-Mart in the US.

Written by PTI | New Delhi | Published: March 17, 2013 12:39:30 pm

The government-appointed panel,looking into possible irregularities in Wal-Mart’s US lobbying activities for entering the Indian market,is expected to meet senior executives of the retail giant this week to gather more information.

Faced with political heat,the government announced a probe in December into the lobbying activities by Wal-Mart in the US for gaining access to Indian market.

The one-man Inquiry Committee,headed by former Chief Justice of Punjab & Haryana High Court Justice Mukul Mudgal,would submit the investigation report to the government next month.

Senior executives of Wal-Mart are expected to provide information to the panel during its meeting scheduled for March 22. The committee is looking into media reports of lobbying activities by Wal-Mart in India. On March 27,the panel met with senior officials of the Department of Industrial Promotion and Policy,Ministry of Corporate Affairs and the Ministry of External Affairs.

The deliberations revolved around the responses received in response to a notice of February 12,2013,put out by the panel,soliciting information from the general public on the terms of reference of the committee.

In the wake of reports about Wal-Mart’s lobbying activities among the US lawmakers since 2008 for facilitating its entry into Indian market,the government late last year assured in Parliament to get the matter probed by a retired judge.

Subsequently,the government set up the committee,whose terms of reference include inquiring into “media reports on disclosures of Wal-Mart before the US Senate regarding their lobbying activities and details thereof”.

The committee is also looking into “whether Wal-Mart undertook any activities in India in contravention of any Indian law”,and any other matter relevant to this issue. In the meantime,Wal-Mart has continued to lobby with the American lawmakers on issues related to foreign investment norms in India,as also others,and spent a total amount of USD 6.13 million on the same during entire 2012.

As per the latest Congressional records of lobbyingdisclosure reports,the US-based Wal-Mart Stores spent a total amount of USD 1.48 million (about Rs 8 crore) on lobbying for various issues,including on “discussions related to FDI in India”,during the last quarter ended December 31,2012. This has taken the total lobbying bill of Wal-Mart for entire 2012 to USD 6.13 million (about Rs 33 crore).

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