Amazon May Have Fooled U.S. Congress On Its Business Practices
Five members of the US House Judiciary Committee wrote to Amazon.com Inc.'s chief executive and accused the company's top executives, including founder Jeff Bezos, of either misleading Congress or possibly lying to it about Amazon's business practices.
Photo Insert: Amazon CEO Andy Jassy
The letter also states that the committee is considering "whether a referral of this matter to the Department of Justice for criminal investigation is appropriate."
Addressed to Amazon CEO Andy Jassy, the letter followed a Reuters investigation last week that showed that the company had conducted a systematic campaign of copying products and rigging search results in India to boost sales of its own brands - practices Amazon has denied engaging in.
Jassy, a longtime Amazon executive, succeeded Bezos in July, Steve Stecklow, Aditya Kalra, and Jeffrey Dastin reported for Reuters.
The letter states that "credible reporting" in the Reuters story and recent articles in several other news outlets directly contradicts the sworn testimony and representations of Amazon's top executives – including former CEO Jeffrey Bezos. "At best, this reporting confirms that Amazon's representatives misled the Committee. At worst, it demonstrates that they may have lied to Congress in possible violation of federal criminal law," the letter states. Reuters reviewed a copy of the letter.
The lawmakers' letter also cites other recent stories in the Markup, the Wall Street Journal, and the Capitol Forum about Amazon's private-brand products and use of seller data. Since 2019, the House Judiciary Committee has been investigating competition in digital markets, including how Amazon uses proprietary seller data from its platform, and whether the company unfairly favors its own products.
In sworn testimony before the Judiciary Committee's antitrust subcommittee last year, Bezos said the company prohibits its employees from using data on individual sellers to benefit its own private-label product lines.
In another hearing in 2019, Nate Sutton, Amazon's associate general counsel, testified that the company does not use such data to create its own branded products or alter its search results to benefit them.