WASHINGTON – House lawmakers are threatening to call for a criminal investigation of Amazon, saying the tech giant has a “last chance” to correct previous testimony by its executives about its competition practices.
Lawmakers sent a letter Monday to Amazon CEO Andy Jassy, saying they were giving the company until November 1 to “fix the record” and provide new documents and evidence. The missive marks an escalation in the bipartisan battle against Amazon led by the House Judiciary Committee panel that investigated Big Tech’s market dominance.
The letter says the antitrust subcommittee is considering sending the case back to the Justice Department for criminal investigation. He accuses the world’s largest online retailer of at least misleading Congress and possibly lying outright.
He cites recent news articles detailing Amazon’s alleged practice of undermining companies selling on its platform by making “fakes” or very similar products, and boosting their presence on the site.
The reports directly contradict sworn testimony from Amazon executives and other statements to Congress, the letter said. It was signed by the chairman of the judiciary committee, 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 case 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 from Seattle-based Amazon founder Jeff Bezos in July. Bezos became executive chairman.
Amazon has 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 of the inaccurate news articles in question,” the company said in a statement.
“As we have stated previously, we have an internal policy, which goes beyond that of any other retailer to our knowledge, which prohibits the use of individual seller data to develop Amazon private label products.” “
Amazon said it investigates any allegations of violations of its policies and takes “appropriate action” when warranted.
“Additionally, we design our research experience to showcase the items that customers will want to purchase, whether offered by Amazon or one of our sales partners,” the statement said.
Amazon’s third-party marketplace has around 2 million independent sellers in its marketplace, and Amazon said more than half of the products sold on Amazon.com come from third-party sellers.