The Cabinet today decided a retired judge would probe whether US-based retail chain WalMart Stores was involved in lobbying activities in India to gain entry into the market, an official statement said. The judge was asked to give his report within three months.
Last month, the government had decided on a probe into the matter, following media reports on disclosures of WalMart before the US Senate regarding its lobbying activities. In November, WalMart had disclosed it spent $25 million on lobbying in the US over the past four years, including on issues related to “enhanced market access for investment in India”. However, the US retailer has repeatedly denied any illegal activity.
In September, the government had allowed 51 per cent foreign direct investment in multi-brand retail in India. In the winter session of Parliament, allegations WalMart had indulged in lobbying in India to gain entry into the market had stalled proceedings.
Under the Commission of Inquiry Act, the government would have to table the probe report, as well as the action report, before Parliament.
WalMart had entered the Indian market in 2007. It operates a 50:50 joint venture with Bharti Enterprises, which runs 17 modern wholesale stores and provides back-end logistical support to Bharti retail’s Easyday stores.