Wal-Mart suspends some Indian workers amid bribery investigation

Posted: November 23, 2012 at 7:14 a.m.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world’s largest retailer, said some workers at its joint venture in India have been suspended as it conducts inquiries into potential violations of U.S. anti-bribery laws.

The retailer is conducting a “complete and thorough investigation,” it said in an e-mailed statement Friday. The Indian venture, Bharti Walmart Pvt., has suspended planned store openings until the probe is completed, the Economic Times reported Friday, citing two unidentified people.

Wal-Mart, based in Bentonville, on Nov. 15 said it started inquiries into potential violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act in India, Brazil and China.

The U.S. Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission are looking into allegations that Wal-Mart systematically bribed Mexican officials so it could more quickly open stores.

An anti-corruption team summoned some employees and told them two weeks ago not to enter Bharti Wal-Mart’s office until after the investigation, the Economic Times reported.

Wal-Mart didn’t provide any details of the people suspended or about the probe it is conducting, saying it would be “inappropriate” to comment before the investigation is complete.