November 28, 2021

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5 U.S. lawmakers accuse Amazon of potentially lying to Congress pursuing Reuters report

LONDON, Oct 18 (Reuters) – 5 users of the U.S. Dwelling Judiciary committee wrote to Amazon.com Inc’s main govt Sunday, and accused the firm’s leading executives, like founder Jeff Bezos, of possibly misleading Congress or maybe lying to it about Amazon’s small business procedures.

The letter also states that the committee is considering “no matter if a referral of this make any difference to the Section of Justice for felony investigation is appropriate.”

Tackled to Amazon CEO Andy Jassy, the letter adopted a Reuters investigation very last 7 days that showed that the business experienced executed a systematic marketing campaign of copying merchandise and rigging search success in India to raise sales of its very own models – techniques Amazon has denied engaging in. Jassy, a longtime Amazon government, succeeded Bezos in July.

The letter states that “credible reporting” in the Reuters story and latest article content in several other news outlets “directly contradicts the sworn testimony and representations of Amazon’s prime executives – including previous CEO Jeffrey Bezos.”

“At finest, this reporting confirms that Amazon’s associates misled the Committee. At worst, it demonstrates that they might have lied to Congress in attainable violation of federal criminal law,” the letter states.

In response, an Amazon spokesperson issued a assertion that mentioned: “Amazon and its executives did not mislead the committee, and we have denied and sought to appropriate the report on the inaccurate media content in question.”

It additional: “As we have previously said, we have an inside coverage, which goes beyond that of any other retailer’s policy that we’re aware of, that prohibits the use of particular person vendor facts to acquire Amazon non-public label items. We examine any allegations that this policy might have been violated and take ideal action.”

Given that 2019, the Home Judiciary Committee has been investigating competitiveness in electronic markets, such as how Amazon employs proprietary vendor information from its platform, and no matter whether the enterprise unfairly favors its have merchandise.

In sworn testimony right before the Judiciary Committee’s antitrust subcommittee final year, Bezos explained the enterprise prohibits its staff from employing information on specific sellers to profit its have non-public-label product lines. In another listening to in 2019, Nate Sutton, Amazon’s affiliate normal counsel, testified that the corporation does not use these information to produce its very own branded items or change its lookup benefits to reward them.

Requested all through the 2019 congressional listening to whether Amazon alters algorithms to direct buyers to its personal items, Sutton replied: “The algorithms are optimized to predict what consumers want to invest in regardless of the vendor.”

The lawmakers’ letter presents Jassy “a remaining option” to present proof to corroborate the company’s prior testimony and statements. It also notes that “it is criminally illegal to knowingly and willfully make statements that are materially false, conceal a content truth, or if not give false documentation in reaction to a congressional investigation.”

It offers the CEO until eventually Nov. 1 to give a sworn reaction to make clear “how Amazon uses non-public unique seller knowledge to acquire and current market its individual line of goods” and how Amazon’s search rankings favor these products.

It also requests copies of all documents outlined in the Oct. 13 Reuters investigation.

“We strongly encourage you to make use of this opportunity to correct the document and give the Committee with sworn, truthful, and exact responses to this request as we consider regardless of whether a referral of this make any difference to the Section of Justice for prison investigation is proper,” the letter states.

The Reuters probe was dependent on countless numbers of pages of interior Amazon documents – like emails, strategy papers and business strategies. They showed that, at minimum in India, Amazon had a official, clandestine policy of manipulating search final results to favor Amazon’s have items, as effectively as copying other sellers’ items – and that at minimum two senior firm executives had reviewed it.

In response to the Reuters report, Amazon mentioned, “We think these claims are factually incorrect and unsubstantiated.” The organization did not elaborate. The organization stated the way it displays search final results doesn’t favor personal-manufacturer products and solutions.

The lawmakers’ letter also cites other modern stories in the Markup, the Wall Road Journal and the Capitol Discussion board about Amazon’s non-public-brand solutions and use of seller details.

The letter’s sharp wording ratchets up the rhetoric among Washington and Large Tech. Providers such as Amazon, Facebook Inc, Apple Inc and Alphabet Inc’s Google have been beneath growing scrutiny in Washington, Europe and other areas of the environment, fueled by issues amongst regulators, lawmakers and purchaser teams that the corporations have far too a lot electricity and are partaking in unfair procedures that harm other businesses.

The lawmakers’ letter was signed by a bipartisan team, and bundled the judiciary committee’s chairman, Democrat Jerrold Nadler, and 4 users of the antitrust subcommittee – its chair, Democrat David Cicilline, vice chair Pramila Jayapal and Republicans Ken Buck and Matt Gaetz.

On Wednesday, pursuing publication of the Reuters investigation, U.S. Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren, a popular critic of Amazon, named for breaking up the firm. In India, a team symbolizing tens of millions of brick-and-mortar stores urged Key Minister Narendra Modi’s government to just take motion from Amazon.

Reporting by Steve Stecklow in London, Aditya Kalra in New Delhi and Jeffrey Dastin in Palo Alto Editing by Peter Hirschberg

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