US House panel refers Amazon to Justice Department in competition probe

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WASHINGTON, March 9 (Reuters) – Five members of the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee have called on the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to investigate Amazon.com Inc for “potentially criminal conduct” by of the company and some of its senior executives.

In a letter to the U.S. Attorney General, the bipartisan group of lawmakers said Amazon engaged in “a pattern and practice of deceptive conduct that suggests” it was acting for an improper purpose to influence or interfere with the panel’s investigation of competition in digital markets.

“We have no choice but to refer this matter to the Department of Justice to investigate whether Amazon and its executives obstructed Congress in violation of applicable federal law,” the dated letter reads. of March 9.

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In response, an Amazon spokesperson told Reuters in an emailed statement: “There is no factual basis for this, as evidenced by the enormous volume of information we have provided to the years of good faith cooperation in this investigation.”

The DOJ does not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The DOJ referral follows an earlier warning from US committee members in October 2021 accusing top Amazon executives, including founder Jeff Bezos, of misleading or lying to Congress about business practices. from Amazon. Read more

The letter had come days after a Reuters investigation showed that Amazon had carried out a systematic campaign of product copying and rigging of search results in India to boost sales of its own brands – practices to which Amazon has complained. denied giving themselves up. [nL4N2R90MW]

Members at the time said the Reuters story and recent articles in several other outlets “directly contradict the sworn testimony and representations of senior Amazon executives – including former CEO Jeffrey Bezos.”

Amazon said at the time that the company and its executives “did not mislead the committee, and we have denied and sought to correct the record on the inaccurate news articles in question.”

In Wednesday’s letter to the U.S. attorney general, U.S. lawmakers cited articles from various outlets, including Reuters, the Wall Street Journal and Politico, about the U.S. e-commerce giant’s business practices.

They added that Amazon had declined multiple opportunities to demonstrate with evidence that it had made accurate and complete statements to the panel during its investigation.

The Reuters investigation in October, which was based on a review of thousands of internal Amazon documents, showed that at least in India, Amazon had a formal and covert policy of manipulating search results to favor its own products. from Amazon, as well as copy from other sellers. ‘ goods – and that at least two senior company executives had reviewed it.

The latest letter from U.S. lawmakers quoted the Reuters article and published a November 1 letter from Amazon in which it told five committee members that the company was “reviewing the allegations in the Reuters article,” adding that ” it will take time.”

Amazon also told the US panel that “the creation of private labels that are similar or even identical to existing brands is common retail practice.”

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Reporting by Aditya Kalra in New Delhi, Steve Stecklow in London and Susan Heavey in Washington; Editing by Nick Zieminski

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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