House committee threatens to investigate Amazon over misleading comments by executives

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House lawmakers are threatening to seek a criminal investigation into Amazon, saying the tech giant has a “last chance” to correct past testimony from executives about its competition practices. They sent a letter to Amazon Chairman and CEO Andy Jassy on Monday marking an escalation in a bipartisan battle against Amazon by the House Judiciary Committee panel investigating Big Tech’s market dominance. Lawmakers are giving Amazon until Nov. 1 to “correct the record” and provide new documents and evidence. The letter said the antitrust subcommittee was considering referring the case to the Justice Department for criminal investigation, as it accused Amazon of at least misleading Congress. The letter cites recent media reports detailing Amazon’s alleged practice of undermining companies that sell on its platform by making “counterfeits” or very similar products, and boosting their presence on the site. testimony from Amazon executives and other statements to Congress, the letter says. It was signed by Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, DN.Y., and the Democratic and Republican leaders of the antitrust panel. opportunity to correct the record and provide the Committee with sworn, truthful and accurate responses to this request as we consider whether a referral of this matter to the Department of Justice for criminal investigation is appropriate,” the letter reads. Jassy took over from Seattle-based Amazon founder Jeff Bezos in July. Amazon and its executives did not mislead the committee, and we have denied and sought to correct the record on the inaccurate news articles in question,” the company said in a statement. “As we have previously stated , we have an internal policy, which goes beyond the policy of any other retailer of which we are aware, that prohibits the use of individual seller data to develop Amazon private label products.”, Amazon said. investigates any alleged violation of its policies and takes “appropriate action” when warranted. partners,” the statement said. Already in May 2020, in a letter to Bezos, the subcommittee threatened with a subpoena if Bezos did not voluntarily agree to appear before the panel. The Wall Street Journal then reported that Amazon was using sensitive and confidential information about sellers on its marketplace, their products and their transactions to develop its own competing products. An Amazon executive denied such a practice in statements at a subcommittee hearing in July 2019, saying the company had a formal policy against him. constituting perjury. Bezos testified on the issue during an appearance at a July 2020 hearing into Big Tech’s alleged monopolistic practices with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Apple CEO Tim Cook and Google CEO , Sundar Pichai. on his platform to compete with them, Bezos said at the time that it would be “unacceptable” if those claims turned out to be true. The new panel letter to Jassy also cites testimony from Sutton, who denied the company used vendor data. to compete with them or help create the company’s own branded products. Sutton said the site’s algorithms were “optimized to predict what customers want to buy rega not to mention the seller.” One of the media quoted in the letter quotes a former Amazon employee as saying, “I used to pull data from sellers to see what the best products were when I was there.” The letter made it clear that the committee believed the media reports and not the testimony of Amazon representatives. “Each of these investigative reports is inconsistent with the sworn testimony and numerous statements made by Amazon executives,” he said.

House lawmakers are threatening to seek a criminal investigation into Amazon, saying the tech giant has a “last chance” to correct past testimony from executives about its competitive practices.

They sent a letter Monday to Amazon Chairman and CEO Andy Jassy, ​​marking an escalation in a bipartisan battle against Amazon by the House Judiciary Committee panel that investigated Big’s market dominance. Tech. Lawmakers are giving Amazon until Nov. 1 to “correct the record” and provide new documents and evidence.

The letter said the antitrust subcommittee was considering referring the case to the Justice Department for criminal investigation, as it accused Amazon of at least misleading Congress and possibly even lying. The letter cites recent news articles detailing Amazon’s alleged practice of undermining companies that sell on its platform by making “knock-offs” or very similar products, and boosting their presence on the site.

The reports directly contradict sworn testimony by Amazon executives and other statements to Congress, the letter says. It was signed by Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, DN.Y., and the Democratic and Republican leaders of the antitrust panel.

“We strongly encourage you to take this opportunity to correct the record and provide the Committee with sworn, truthful and accurate responses to this request as we consider whether a referral of this matter to the Department of Justice for criminal investigation is appropriate,” said the letter.

Jassy took over as head of Seattle-based Amazon from founder Jeff Bezos in July.

Amazon denied that its executives misled the panel in their testimony.

“Amazon and its executives did not mislead the committee, and we have denied and sought to correct the record on the inaccurate news articles in question,” the company said in a statement. “As we have previously stated, we have an internal policy, which goes beyond the policy of any other retailer of which we are aware, which prohibits the use of individual seller data to develop Amazon private label products. .”’

Amazon said it investigates any alleged violation of its policies and takes “appropriate action” when warranted. “Additionally, we design our search experience to present items that customers will want to buy, whether offered by Amazon or one of our retail partners,” the statement said.

Already in May 2020, in a letter to Bezos, the subcommittee had threatened a subpoena if Bezos did not voluntarily agree to appear before the panel.

The Wall Street Journal then reported that Amazon was using sensitive and confidential information about sellers on its marketplace, their products and their transactions to develop its own competing products. An Amazon executive denied such a practice in statements at a subcommittee hearing in July 2019, saying the company had a formal policy against him.

The letter to Bezos said statements by Amazon attorney Nate Sutton appeared to be misleading “and possibly criminally false” or amount to perjury.

Bezos testified on the issue during an appearance at a July 2020 hearing into Big Tech’s alleged monopolistic practices with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Apple CEO Tim Cook and Google CEO , Sundar Pichai.

Responding to allegations that Amazon used data generated by independent sellers on its platform to compete with them, Bezos said at the time that it would be “unacceptable” if those claims turn out to be true.

The new panel letter to Jassy also cites testimony from Sutton, who denied that the company used vendor data to compete with them or help create the company’s own private label products. Sutton said the site’s algorithms were “optimized to predict what customers want to buy, regardless of the seller.”

One of the media quoted in the letter quotes a former Amazon employee as saying, “I used to pull data from sellers to see what the best products were when I was there.”

The letter made it clear that the committee believed the media reports and not the testimony of Amazon representatives. “Each of these investigative reports is inconsistent with the sworn testimony and numerous statements made by Amazon executives,” he said.

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