Amazon launches probe against legal representatives in India

legal representatives Amazon
Image by Silver_wings | Bigstockphoto

Amazon has reportedly started an investigation into some of its legal representatives in India for allegedly bribing Indian government officials. The global e-commerce major officially responded to media reports on bribery-related charges and said it takes allegations of improper actions seriously and investigates them fully to take appropriate action.

India’s digital news outlet, The Morning Context, Monday reported that a whistleblower within Amazon flagged bribery issues in its India operations, which resulted in an official investigation.

The company, which is currently facing a probe by the country’s fair trade watchdog, the Competition Commission of India (CCI), has reportedly sent its senior corporate counsel on leave. The report added that Amazon is now investigating accusations that legal fees paid by the Indian operations have been used as bribes.

The CCI is currently probing Amazon and Flipkart for alleged anti-competitive practices, predatory pricing and preferential treatment of sellers. Amazon is also involved in a legal tussle with retail major Future Group over the latter’s M&A deal with Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Retail Ventures Ltd.

“We have zero tolerance for corruption. We take allegations of improper actions seriously, investigate them fully, and take appropriate action. We are not commenting on specific allegations or the status of any investigation at this time,” an Amazon spokesperson informed the Indian media without giving details on the ongoing investigations.

The Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT), India’s offline retailer’s body, has also demanded a CBI inquiry following the report. In a letter to India’s Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal, CAIT said that Amazon must be directed to suspend its e-commerce portal while the investigation goes on.

CAIT said that it is also moving representation to Gary Gensler, Chairman, US Securities & Exchange Commission, Washington, who heads the repository body of FCPA law of the US. The Corporate Governance Committee of the Amazon Board is demanding a fair and independent probe into this issue.

The development comes when Amazon is increasing its focus on the Indian market to drive growth under the new chief executive officer, Andy Jassy. It had previously launched a $250 million venture fund to invest in technology-led startups and small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) in India. The fund aims to drive innovation in the areas of agri-tech and health-tech.

In January 2020, Jeff Bezos announced an investment of $1 billion at the first edition of the Smbhav event to digitise 10 million SMBs, enable $10 billion in exports and create 1 million jobs by 2025 in India.

Amazon recently forayed into India’s wealth management market with its maiden investment in startup smallcase Technologies. The investment was made through its $250-million early-stage tech fund Amazon Smbhav Venture Fund (ASVF).

It had previously invested in fintech startups, including Acko General Insurance and credit provider Capital Float. It is reportedly in talks to close a funding round in neo-bank startup Open.

The company is also eyeing India’s satellite communications market and has started discussions with the country’s space and telecom departments to gain regulatory approvals. Under its global space internet initiative, Project Kuiper, Jeff Bezos-led Amazon is investing over $10 billion to build a constellation of 3,236 low-earth orbit (LEO) satellites.

Be the first to comment

What do you think?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.