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Walmart suspends India expansion

Nov. 23, 2012 at 4:05 PM

MUMBAI, Nov. 23 (UPI) -- Five executives with a joint venture between Walmart and an Indian retailer have been suspended following a corruption investigation, the company said Friday.

It was unclear exactly what the company officials were suspected of doing but bribery is a consistent problem in India, a country where national, state and local regulators often overlap, providing many obstacles to doing business often only overcome by paying off government officials, The New York Times said.

India's Parliament recently passed a controversial law allowing outside retailers to set up shop in the country provided they have a local partner and don't control more than 50 percent of the venture. Walmart is working with Indian supermarket chain Bharti and opened 18 wholesale stores in the northern India. Plans to expand to the south and west were announced but the corruption investigation has delayed them, the Times said.

The Walmart investigation comes after media reports in April suggested the company turned a blind eye to similar bribery offers in Mexico.

Walmart, the world's largest retailer, wouldn't confirm the identities or roles of those "few associates" suspended but the Times said it included the chief financial officer of the Bharti Walmart venture and its legal team.

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