US Lawmakers Refer Amazon To Justice Dept Over Potential Criminal Conduct

SEATTLE (dpa-AFX) – The Democratic-controlled House judiciary committee has referred retail giant Amazon Inc. (AMZN) to the Department of Justice, citing ‘potentially criminal conduct’ by the company and its certain senior executives.

In a letter addressed to the attorney general, Merrick Garland, lawmakers said that the retail company had engaged in a ‘pattern and practice of misleading conduct that suggests’ it was acting to affect the committee’s investigation into online market competition.

According to the Congressional letter dated March 9, ‘Amazon repeatedly endeavored to thwart the committee’s efforts to uncover the truth about Amazon’s business practices.

‘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,’ it added.

Commenting on the judiciary committee move, Amazon issued a statement that ‘there’s no factual basis’ for the committee’s move and the company had fully co-operated with the investigation.

The letter is the latest in a series of warning from the committee to Amazon. In October, the committee had accused company executives of either misleading Congress or lying to it about its business practices.

A Reuters investigation in 2021 had shown Amazon copying products and rigging search results in India to improve the sales of its own brands, or private-label brands. Both these allegations have been denied by Amazon.

The congressional committee said that the news ‘directly contradicts the testimony of Amazon’s executives including former chief executive Jeffrey Bezos’. The company completely denied the allegations saying that it ‘did not mislead the committee’ and had tried to correct the record on the inaccurate media articles in question.

Lawmakers, however, said that the company had bypassed opportunities to show with evidence that it had made correct representations to the committee.

The request to the justice department escalates tensions between US politicians and the company, which is facing a number of investigations and also calls for restrictions over its market supremacy.

The latest escalation comes after committee members requested that Amazon’s chief executive, Andy Jassy, provide ‘exculpatory evidence’ about its private-label business practices.

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