Walmart had big plans for India, once aspiring to be the country's top retailer by 2015. But allegations of corruption and the perils of navigating India's byzantine system of rules and regulations have scuttled these hopes, and today the company has had to settle for incremental growth amid controversy.
A 2012 disclosure that Walmart spent $25 million on lobbying related to "enhanced market access for investment in India" created an uproar in the country, and members of the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party accused Walmart of using some of those funds to grease a few palms in an attempt gain a foothold in India. (The BJP has also spoken out against the company, and foreign investment in retail in general, voicing fears for the fate of local stores.) Walmart has staunchly maintained that the expenditures were related to standard lobbying activity, and at least one analyst has called the accusations "ill-informed," but that didn't stop the government from scheduling an inquiry into the issue. Walmart has since stopped opening new stores pending completion of the bribery probe, according to the Economic Times. It is also engaged in an ongoing internal investigation encompassing its Indian operations that has resulted in the suspension of several senior executives there.