Is CVC trying to shield Walmart, Mondelez?
The Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) has declined to share details of probe against US-based world’s biggest retailer Walmart and confectionery giant Mondelez, maker of Cadbury chocolates, saying it will impede the process of investigation and apprehension and prosecution of offenders.
“The inquiry into allegations against Mondelez and Walmart is not complete. The matter is also subjudice in respect of Walmart. “Any disclosure at this stage would impede the process of investigation or apprehension or prosecution of offenders,” the CVC said in reply to an RTI query filed by Ashwini Shrivastava.
The Commission was asked by the applicant to give copies of letters written by it to Ministry of External Affairs or Personnel Ministry seeking assistance in cases against Mondelez and Walmart.
The CVC is looking into the role of central and state government officials who might have facilitated about Rs 580 crore alleged excise duty evasion by Mondelez.
The demand was raised against Mondelez India Foods Pvt Ltd, erstwhile Cadbury India Ltd, for allegedly evading excise duty by fraudulently taking exemption for one of its ‘ghost’ production units in Himachal Pradesh’s Baddi area.
CVC’s request seeking information from the US authorities has been routed via Personnel Ministry.
The Directorate General of Central Excise Intelligence had in 2011 initiated a probe against Mondelez for allegedly misusing “area-based exemption” for its new unit in Baddi even before it came into existence.
As per norms, the area-based exemption for new industrial units of firms in Himachal Pradesh entails
full exemption from excise duty for production of specified goods for a period of 10 years.
In the case of Walmart, the CVC had started probe to look into allegations that the company bribed government officials to get customs clearances and obtain permits to set up stores in India.
Both the companies have denied any wrongdoing on their part.