Graft case: Govt weighs probe against Amazon


BENGALURU/ NEW DELHI: The government is examining the possibility of an investigation against Amazon, following allegations of bribery by some of its legal representatives. Amid allegations of large legal expenses by Amazon’s Indian arms over the last few years, government sources said the Centre may not wait for the global e-commerce giant to complete its internal investigations and could order its own enquiry. At the same time, they added, a final call is yet to be taken.
The probe, if ordered, will examine the allegations both at the central government as well as at the state level, the sources indicated to TOI.
Amazon rebutted reports that it had spent Rs 8,500 crore as legal fees over the last few years. “Given a misleading representation of a line item from our statutory filings on legal fees in a section of the media, we clarify that the line item is actually termed legal and professional expenses that includes not just the legal costs but also the costs related to other professional services such as outsourcing, tax consultants, customer research, logistic support services, merchant onboarding services, customer service cost, etc. For instance, for the year ended March 2020, the legal fee was Rs 52 crore.”
Domestic trader lobby group CAIT has already approached the government. On Monday, reports had first emerged of Amazon launching an investigation and sending its executive on leave.
Amazon is already facing an enquiry by the Competition Commission of India (CCI) over charges that it promoted select sellers. The e-tailer’s bid to stall the probe had been rejected by the Supreme Court recently.
The company’s operations have been under the government’s scanner, with the Centre also tweaking rules that had forced it to rework its business model. The latest developments have put Amazon under a fresh lens.

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