‘Lobbying and bribery are two very different things...These disclosures (by Walmart) are for expenses in the US’

Walk the Talk

So, this $25 million does not include money spent in India?

That is my understanding. I would defer to Walmart on the particulars of the case. But the requirement is for what is spent in the US. I think Walmart had something like 80 items they were using the US $25 million for. FDI in India was one of 80 issues they would have approached US government officials, policymakers on. This is not a disclosure on India.

So this is not a disclosure of money paid in India, this is not a disclosure of bribes because nobody discloses bribes. This is a disclosure of lobbying?

No. But there is another investigation. Again, Walmart has itself identified that they might have issues in some countries, including India, and they are conducting their own investigation. Our Department of Justice and the SEC will also take a look at it. We have a very tough law that dates back to the 1970s (against paying) bribes to officials and foreign countries. We take this very seriously. It makes it tough for us to compete with a number of people, but we think that it's good business, good for our customers, that when they receive a bid, they know this is an actual bid, that it does not involve any payoffs.

You have been coming to the region for a long time, especially India. This suspicion of America, the notion of the 'ugly American', how has it changed over the decades?

In terms of the official relationship, things have changed dramatically. From the strict non-alignment to a relationship that keeps me busy 24 hours a day...

...also, from a very aligned world to tilt to Pakistan and to a non-hyphenated approach to India.

...and of looking at India as part of our rebalanced Asia, looking at the 21st century where Asia will play an incredible part and India will be very important. Another point that I want to make is how many Indians and Americans are going back and forth. There are three million Americans of Indian-origin now and they are an important community. They bring diversity and incredible energy to our IT sector and increasingly, to our political sector.

... contd.

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