The Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) has summoned the India head of US-based multinational retail giant Wal-Mart Stores Inc in the wake of allegations that the company had paid massive amounts as bribe in India to obtain regulatory permits for some of its operations.
The CVC probe will involve examination of the retailer's documents and for the first time, the investigation agency is acting on its own based on a media report.
"Some observations have been made that Wal-Mart gave some amount to government officials here. It is our duty to look into it," PTI quoted Vigilance Commissioner TM Bhasin as saying
He said "the Commission has taken suo motu cognisance of it and summoned country head of Wal-Mart here."
"We have asked them to submit details to us by November 15," Bhasin said.
It is also for the first time that the CVC has initiated a probe against a private firm.
Wal-Mart is suspected to have paid "thousands of small payments" to junior-level officials in India in order to pass its goods through customs or get real estate approvals, the Wall Street Journal had reported last month.
"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.
Wal-Mart decided to put aside its plans to foray into the Indian market in 2013 by discontinuing its joint venture with Bharti Enterprises Ltd. After that, the company opted to go alone in India.
"Wal-Mart was also involved in lobbying before the US Congress in this regard," the report said, citing Congressional disclosure reports of the past few years.