INDIA: Bharti Wal-Mart suspends CFO amid bribery probe
Bharti Wal-Mart has suspended a number of its employees, one of whom is understood to be its CFO, while it investigates alleged violations of US anti-bribery laws.
A spokesperson for Bharti Wal-Mart confirmed the move today (23 November) and said the company is "committed to conducting a complete and thorough investigation".
"Wal-Mart and Bharti have suspended a few associates pending the outcome of the investigation," the spokesperson said. "It would be inappropriate for us to comment further until we have finished the investigation."
It is understood the Indian joint venture of Wal-Mart Stores has suspended five employees in total, including CFO Pankaj Madan, as part of an ongoing global investigation by the US retail giant against alleged corrupt practices, Reuters reported. Four of the employees are understood to be from Bharti's legal team.
According to the publication, Wal-Mart last week opened internal enquiries or investigations into bribery allegations in Brazil, China and India, following an earlier probe in Mexico.
Indian authorities are also investigating claims the retailer violated foreign exchange rules when it invested $100m in a domestic unit owned by its wholesale joint-venture partner.
India's government finally allowed foreign direct investment in the country's retail sector in September after a number of delays.
Indian opposition parties and the Congress party-led coalition government had opposed the move that would allow retail giants like Wal-Mart into the sector. Opponents believe greater foreign investment will hit domestic operators, particularly smaller, traditional outlets.
Opposition politicians demanded a debate and vote on the policy decision when the Indian parliament opened for its winter session yesterday, Reuters noted, threatening to halt parliamentary proceedings.
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