Amazon Referred to DOJ for Potential Criminal Obstruction of Congress
A House Committee is urging the Department of Justice (DOJ) to investigate Amazon.com over what lawmakers contend is potentially criminal obstruction of Congress, reports CNBC. In a letter sent Wednesday and addressed to Attorney General Merrick Garland, a bipartisan group of lawmakers alleged that Amazon repeatedly misled the House Judiciary Committee throughout a 16-month probe into the competitive practices of Amazon, Apple, Google and Facebook.
In particular, lawmakers have zeroed in on Amazon’s private-label practices and its collection of third-party seller data. Lawmakers claim Amazon has made false and misleading statements to the House Committee about its practices, then refused to turn over evidence that would “either corroborate its claims or correct the record,” according to the 24-page letter. An Amazon spokesperson refuted the claims in a statement to CNBC.
Total Retail's Take: Amazon's business practices continue to come under scrutiny from government officials since the members of the House Antitrust Subcommittee grilled then-CEO Jeff Bezos during a hearing in July 2020. This is nothing new for the e-commerce giant. Amazon was probed by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for deceptive pricing after purchasing Whole Foods in 2017, investigated by the FTC again in 2019 over the power of its marketplace, and faced antitrust charges from the European Union in 2020, to name just a few of the legal challenges it has faced in recent years.
The investigation accuses Amazon of concealing the truth about its use of third-party sellers’ data to advantage its private-label business and its preferencing of private-label products in search results. “The Committee extended multiple opportunities for Amazon to clarify these misconceptions, yet executives continued to thwart our efforts to uncover the truth about their business practices,” House legislators said. “Amazon and its executives must be held accountable for this behavior.” The Department of Justice may soon be calling on new CEO Andy Jassy, for whom guiding Amazon through antitrust concerns is a main priority, and the rest of the Amazon executive team for further investigations.
Kristina Stidham is the digital content director at Women in Retail Leadership Circle and sister brand Total Retail. She is passionate about digital media and handles video, podcast and virtual event production for both brands. You can often find her at WIRLC, TR, or industry events with her camera and podcasting equipment recording interviews with retailers.
Kristina holds a B.A. in Media Studies and Production from the Temple University Klein College of Media and Communication in Philadelphia. Go Owls! When she's not in the office, she loves to go on long walks, sing around the house, hangout with her two pet guinea pigs, and travel to new places.