Probe panel on Walmart lobbying to meet tomorrow

The government-appointed panel looking into Walmart's lobbying with American lawmakers for its entry into the Indian market is likely to meet tomorrow and deliberate on information provided by the retail giant.

The one-man committee, headed by former Chief Justice of Punjab and Haryana High Court Mukul Mudgal, during its meeting last month had sought fresh details from Walmart.

Sources said the probe panel is expected to meet on May 6 to discuss various information provided by the retailer. This would be the fifth meeting of the committee since its set up in January.

After the last meeting on April 10, Mudgal had said that he has sought more information from Walmart. The previous meeting was attended by Walmart representatives and senior officials from the Corporate Affairs Ministry and the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion, among others.

The tenure of the panel, which was expected to submit its report by April 30, has been extended.

In response to a query on when the panel is expected to complete its probe, 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".

Following reports about Walmart's lobbying among the US lawmakers since 2008 for facilitating its entry into the Indian market, the government in December 2012 had assured Parliament to get the matter probed by a retired judge.

The committee is looking into "whether Walmart undertook any activities in India in contravention of any Indian law", and any other matter relevant to this issue.
As per Congressional records of lobbying disclosure reports, the company spent a total amount of USD 6.13 million (about Rs 33 crore) on lobbying for various issues, including on "discussions related to FDI in India", during entire 2012.

Amid intense political pressure, the government had set up the panel to look into the issue.

The Corporate Affairs Ministry is providing administrative support to the committee, which has already discussed responses received from the public on the matter.
Separately, the regulatory agencies here are also probing allegations of bribery against Walmart in India.

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