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WalMart lobbying probe panel to meet on April 10

WalMart lobbying probe panel to meet on April 10

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A government appointed probe panel, looking into WalMart's lobbying among US lawmakers for facilitating its India entry, will meet next week to discuss the details provided by the global retailer in this matter.

The meeting, expected to be held on April 10, is likely to be attended by the top executives of Walmart as well, sources said. This would be the fourth meeting of the committee since its inception in January.
 
The Panel, headed by former Chief Justice of Punjab and Haryana High Court Mukul Mudgal, during its last meeting on March 22 had sought full details about Walmart's lobbying activities in the US with regard to plans to enter India.
 
The last meeting was attended by Walmart Asia President and CEO Scott Price, along with other representatives of Walmart Asia and Bharti WalMart Private Ltd. Besides, officials from the Corporate Affairs Ministry and Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) were also present.
 
While the Committee has been asked to submit its report to the government by April 30, sources said that its tenure could be extended further depending on the progress of probe.
 
"The required information is being gathered. Once that is done then they would be checked to ascertain whether there was any violation...it is likely to take some more time before the report is finalised," sources said.
 
In the wake of intense political pressure, the government had set up this panel to look into reports of Walmart's lobbying activities among the American lawmakers for foraying into the high-growth Indian market.
 
The committee is also looking into "whether Walmart undertook any activities in India in contravention of any Indian law," and any other matter relevant to this issue.
 
The panel, to which the Corporate Affairs Ministry is providing administrative support, is also discussing responses received to a public notice put out by it, wherein the government had solicited information from the general public on the matter.
 
Separately, the regulatory agencies here are also probing allegations of bribery against Walmart in India.
 
In the wake of reports about WalMart's lobbying among the US lawmakers since 2008 for facilitating its entry into Indian market, the government in December 2012 had assured Parliament to get the matter probed by a retired judge.
 
In the meantime, WalMart 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 $6.13 million on the same during entire 2012.
 
As per Congressional records of lobbying disclosure reports, the company spent a total amount of $6.13 million (about Rs 33 crore) on lobbying for various issues, including on "discussions related to FDI in India", during entire 2012. 

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