America’s multinational retail corporation Wal-mart is suspected to have paid bribes worth millions of dollars in India, according to a report. The Wall Street Journal said Wal-mart’s “suspected bribery” unearthed in India involves thousands of small payments to low-level local officials to help move goods through customs or obtain real-estate permits.
“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 daily 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, the report said.
Wal-mart, which was pushing the previous Manmohan Singh government for permits to open a store, also lobbied with the U.S. Congress in this regard, Congressional disclosure reports have said in the past few years. According to the report, Wal-mart’s massive bribery efforts is unlikely to bring in any penalty under the provisions of the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act because its Indian operation did not yield any profit. There was no immediate response from Wal-mart’s corporate headquarters here on the Wall Street Journal’s report.