As per a report in Economic Times, Bharti Retail has returned 17 properties, which it had leased across the country to open Easyday stores. Pre-leased properties in towns such as Shimla, Ramnagar, Rishikesh, Jammu, Ludhiana, Mathura, Banga, Kurukshetra, Bangalore and Roorkee have been returned to the original owners. The market grapevine attributes this to the company’s commitment to the US policy of not paying bribes in the conduct of business. As it is, there is an internal probe on to check if its Indian unit violated US anti-bribery laws and “procured” the dozens of licenses needed to open stores. Going forward, it does not want to open stores until it is able to put in place a fool-proof compliance mechanism. However, the situation on the ground is that it is hard to procure most licenses in India without greasing the palms of lower-level local government officials and given that a retail store may require 20 – 30 licenses it renders expansion next to impossible. In addition to licenses there is the issue of compliant properties which meet all the local building norms. Walmart has already applied the brakes on its cash and carry joint venture. It has stalled all expansion since October, and suspended its CFO as well as the team responsible for obtaining licenses and approvals.