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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 |
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.

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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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