Saturday, April 13, 2024

US lawmakers: Amazon’s Jeff Bezos ‘may have lied to Congress’

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Washington – Executives at Amazon, including founder Jeff Bezos, may have misled or lied to Congress about the firm’s business practices, top United States lawmakers have said.

The members of the House Judiciary Committee said they were considering referring the firm “for criminal investigation”.

It follows an investigation by Reuters that claimed Amazon copied products and rigged its search results in India to boost sales of its own brands.

Amazon strongly denies the allegations.

“Amazon and its executives did not mislead the committee, and we have denied and sought to correct the record on the inaccurate media articles in question,” a spokesperson said.

On Monday, five members of the US House Judiciary Committee wrote to Amazon boss Andy Jassy, who succeeded Bezos in July.

They said “credible reporting” by Reuters and recent articles in 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.

Continued investigations

Since 2019, the House Judiciary Committee has been investigating competition in digital markets, including how Amazon uses third party seller data from its platform, and whether the company unfairly favours its own products.

In sworn testimony before the Judiciary Committee’s anti-trust subcommittee last year, Mr Bezos said the firm forbids employees using data on individual sellers to benefit Amazon’s own-brand product lines.

In another hearing in 2019, Nate Sutton, Amazon’s associate general counsel, said the firm never used such data to create its own branded products or manipulate its search results for private gain.

“The algorithms are optimised to predict what customers want to buy regardless of the seller,” he said. (BBC)

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