Walmart’s investment in India scrutinised

Malavika Sharma Mumbai

AN INDIAN government agency was investigating allegations that Walmart had violated legal restrictions on foreign investment in the retail industry, Trade Minister Anand Sharma said yesterday.

The government had received complaints alleging that Walmart had invested in the retail industry before a September decision to loosen the rules, Sharma said.

Walmart spokeswoman Arti Singh said the US retail giant was “in compliance with India’s laws”.

India’s central bank had referred the matter to the Directorate of Enforcement, which investigates violations of rules on foreign investment, for further probes, Sharma said. The minister did not say who had filed the complaints.

The investigation adds to Walmart’s troubles in India, where it recently suspended some workers at its wholesale joint venture, Bharti Walmart, while it probes potential violations of US anti-bribery laws.

Sharma said complaints had been made that Walmart and its partners, Bharti Enterprises and Cedar Support Services, had engaged in retail trade of multiple brands.

Meanwhile, India’s fragile ruling coalition yesterday won a vote on allowing foreign supermarkets to operate.

The victory clears the way for voting on bills aimed at attracting foreign investment to the ailing pension and insurance industries, two measures seen by financial markets as important steps in further liberalising an economy amid a slowdown. – Bloomberg


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