Amazon has been accused of misleading or lying about certain business practices to members of Congress on an anti-trust committee. These accusations are far reaching and could have grave consequences for the Seattle-based company. The representatives involved and all members of the House Judiciary Committee’s anti-trust sub-committee, are considering asking the department of justice to undertake a criminal investigation.
So what’s Amazon been up to this time?
An investigation suggested that Amazon was involved in copying other companies’ products and influencing search results to promote them. It was also reported that Amazon deliberately places it’s own products higher in search results compared to its competitor’s, even if they have higher customer ratings. According to the representatives, these findings are in contradiction to what was said under sworn testimony by now ex-CEO Jeff Bezos and other executives.
Amazon’s associate general counsel, Nate Sutton, testified in a 2019 hearing. Back then he said that Amazon doesn’t “use individual seller data directly to compete” with third-party sellers. Similarly, Jeff Bezos testified in 2020. He said that the company doesn’t allow it’s employees to use data from third-party sellers to promote it’s own products. He added that he “could not guarantee” that such data has been misused.
Where do we go from here?
In a letter sent to Andy Jassy, current CEO of Amazon, Reps. David Cicilline, Ken Buck, Pramila Jayapal, Jerrold Nadler and Matt Gaetz have asked Amazon to provide “exculpatory evidence”. That is needed to back up their claims made in the testimony to the subcommittee in 2019 and 2020.
The lawmakers wrote in the letter. “At best, this reporting confirms that Amazons representatives misled the committee. At worst, it demonstrates that they may have lied to the committee in possible violation of federal criminal law.”
Amazon’s side of the story
An Amazon spokesperson provided the following statement:
“Amazon and its executives did mislead the committee and we have denied and sought to correct the record on the inaccurate media article in question. As we have previously stated, we have an internal policy, which goes beyond that of any other retailer’s policy that we’re aware of, that prohibits the use individual seller data to develop Amazon private label products.
We investigate any allegations that this policy may have been violated and take appropriate action. In addition, we design our search experience to feature the items customer will want to purchase, regardless of whether they are offered by Amazon or one of our selling partners.”