Anand Sharma evasive on Walmart graft allegations

Commerce Minister Anand Sharma was today evasive over a question of corruption allegations against retail giant Walmart in India, saying agencies could look into violations if any.

The world's largest retailer has disclosed that it is investigating allegations of corrupt practices and alleged violations of US anti-bribery law in India, China and Brazil, expanding similar ongoing investigations in Mexico.

"Allegations are allegations. In a rule-based and rule-governed country, if there is any violation there are agencies who are there to look into it," Sharma told journalists en route to Phnom Penh along with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, when asked to comment about the allegations involving Walmart.

At the same time, he said there would have been no violations since September when the FDI decision was notified with only one change about dispensation of landlocked states which do not have cities with population of five million.

Walmart has not specified specific charges of corruption in any of the countries it has mentioned but said it is probing allegations of potential violations of Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) of the US.

The FCPA bars bribing officials of foreign governments.

The allegations have come at a time when the UPA government is pushing hard its reform agenda, including FDI in retail.

The opposition BJP yesterday termed the graft allegations as a "serious issue", and demanded a probe into the matter as well as a reply by the government.

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