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Wal-Mart India unit suspends CFO

  • The Indian joint venture of Wal-Mart Stores Inc has suspended its chief financial officer and other employees as a probe is launched over allegations over bribery.

    The development could hinder India's efforts to open up its lucrative domestic supermarket sector to foreign investment.

    Last week, Wal-Mart said it had started internal investigations into bribery allegations in a number of countries including Brazil, China and India and follows an earlier enquiry in Mexico.

    "The suspension is a routine global practice followed in such investigations," an official at the Indian unit said, declining to be named. "We cannot carry out a fair investigation when the people we are investigating are in office. What we must not forget is they are innocent until proven guilty," the person said.

    In a separate statement, a spokeswoman for the joint venture confirmed the suspensions, adding that the venture was "committed to conducting a complete and thorough investigation."

    Wal-Mart's partner in the venture is Bharti Enterprises.

    Indian authorities are also looking into claims that Wal-Mart violated foreign exchange rules after investing $100 million in a domestic unit owned by its wholesale joint-venture partner.