A high-profile federal probe by US Justice Department has revealed America’s multinational retail corporation Wal-Mart is suspected to have paid bribes worth millions of dollars in India to low-level local officials to help move goods through customs or obtain real-estate permits, The Wall Street Journal reports.
“The vast majority of the suspicious payments were less than $200, and some were as low as $5, the people said, but when added together they totalled millions of dollars,” the report said.
In 2013, Wal-Mart shelved plans to open retail stores in India by severing a joint venture with Bharti Enterprises Ltd and instead decided to become solely a wholesaler there, the report added.
Congressional disclosure reports have said in the past few years that Wal-Mart, who was pushing the previous UPA regime for opening of the multi-brand retail sector, was also involved in lobbying before the US Congress in this regard. According to the report, Wal-Mart’s massive bribery efforts is unlikely to bring in any penalty on it as its Indian operation does not yield any profit under the provisions of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) of the United States.”Because penalties under the FCPA are often connected to the amount of profit the alleged misconduct generated, the payments in India wouldn’t be likely to result in any sizable penalty, since Wal-Mart’s operations there haven’t been particularly profitable, said people familiar with the matter,” the report said.
The report also said there was no immediate response from Walmart’s corporate headquarters about the report on its bribery in India.