MUMBAI — IN THE continuing investigation into allegations of bribery, US retailer Walmart’s joint venture in India, Bharti-Walmart, has suspended most of its legal team, as well as chief financial officer Pankaj Madan, according to reports.

The company has also halted the openings of several new wholesale shops, The Hindu and Economic Times newspapers said on Friday. Mr Madan and four of the fivemember legal team were suspended on Tuesday in the international investigation over allegations of corrupt practices at the company.

The latest revelation comes on the heels of an investigation into Walmart’s operations in Mexico, where several employees allegedly paid bribes in order to secure favourable treatment for the company, in violation of US law.

The probe into the global operations of the world’s largest retailer has since spread to other countries, including China and Brazil. Walmart bought a 51% stake in South Africa’s Massmart more than a year ago.

Bharti-Walmart confirmed the suspensions. "We are committed to conducting a complete and thorough investigation," a spokesman said.

The suspensions come as Walmart is looking at entering India’s lucrative $500bn multibrand retail sector. Indian law had limited it to operating wholesale outlets, but in September India decided to open its retail sector to foreign supermarkets. The government also permitted global companies to hold up to 51% equity in companies such as department stores that sell items from multiple brands.

Sapa-DPA