Government extends term of Walmart lobbying probe panel till May

Government extends term of Walmart lobbying probe panel till May
New Delhi:  The government-appointed probe panel, which is looking into Walmart's lobbying with the US lawmakers for facilitating India entry, today got a one-month extension in its tenure till May-end.

The one-man inquiry committee, which was set up by the government in January this year, was earlier asked to submit its report by end of April, but the probe will take more time as fresh details have been sought from Walmart.

The Union Cabinet today gave its approval for one month extension of the tenure of the Committee, set up under former Chief Justice of Punjab and Haryana Court Justice Mukal Mudgal, till May 31, an official release said.

In its last meeting, held earlier this month, the panel had sought fresh details from the US-based global retailer and had said that investigations might take some more time to be completed.

"We discussed the reply given by Walmart and decided to seek some supplementary questions to them," Justice Mudgal had said after its fourth meeting on April 10.

When asked as to when the panel expected to complete its probe, Justice Mudgal had said: "It would depend on the replies given by Walmart and if at all a little extension is sought, it won't go beyond June."

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 and later set up the panel in January 2013.

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, has also discussed responses received to a public notice, wherein information was solicited from the general public on the matter.

As per Congressional records of lobbying disclosure reports, Walmart spent a total amount of 6.13 million dollars (about Rs 33 crore) on lobbying for various issues, including on "discussions related to FDI in India", during entire 2012.

Separately, the regulatory agencies here are also probing allegations of bribery against Walmart in India.

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