In the ongoing investigations by the US retail giant Walmart into the allegations of bribery and corruption, Bharti Walmart joint venture on Friday suspended five people, including chief financial officer (CFO) Pankaj Madan.

``We are committed to conducting a complete and thorough investigation. Walmart and Bharti have suspended a few associates pending the outcome of the investigation. It would be inappropriate for us to comment further until we have finished the investigation,’’ Bharti Walmart spokesperson told in a email reply to the queries put by The Hindu.

The investigations are currently in the active stage and more heads are likely to roll as the investigation progresses in the coming days. The company is understood to have decided to put a halt to opening new cash and carry wholesale stores in India pending the probe.

Mr. Madan and four out of the five-member legal team of Bharti Walmart were suspended on Tuesday (November 20) as part of the ongoing investigation over allegations of corrupt practices against the company in foreign markets, including India, sources said. However, there was no clarity on the nature of charges against these individuals. The spokesperson told PTI: ``We are committed to the Indian market. We remain excited about the opportunity to grow our business in one of the world's most vibrant economies, expand opportunities for farmers and help lower the cost of living for families in India.’’

Bharti Walmart is a 50:50 joint venture between Bharti Group and Walmart stores Inc for running of wholesale stores under the Best Price Modern Wholesale brand.

Last week Walmart had said it was investigating allegations of violation of Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) of the US that bars bribing officials of foreign

governments in India and other countries including China and Brazil. ``We have inquiries or investigations regarding allegations of potential FCPA violations in a number of foreign markets where we operate, including but not limited to Brazil, China and India. This is in addition to the ongoing investigation in Mexico,’’ the company had stated.

Walmart had also stated that when allegations are reported or identified, we, together with our third party advisors, conduct inquiries and when warranted, we open investigations. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has already asked Enforcement Directorate (ED) to probe Walmart's investment in an arm of Bharti enterprises -- Cedar Support Services Ltd -- for alleged violations of forex laws. Bharti Enterprises has, however, rejected the allegations that it had violated any rule in this regard. The company had said all the procedures were followed as per the law of the land.

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