Allegations involve data Amazon collected from third-party sellers
The House Judiciary Committee wrote to Attorney General Merrick Garland alerting him of potential “criminal conduct by Amazon and certain of its executives,” in a letter written by members of the committee and obtained by ABC News.
The judiciary committee, led by Antitrust Subcommittee Chairman David Cicilline, alleges Amazon lied to Congress over whether it used data it collected from third-party sellers.MORE: Amazon union saga in Alabama spotlights ‘David versus Goliath nature of US labour laws
“Throughout the course of the Committee’s investigation, Amazon attempted to cover up its lie by offering ever-shifting explanations of what it called its ‘Seller Data Protection Policy,'” the letter says. “Among other things, in written statements to the Committee, Amazon made a distinction between the “individual” seller data that Amazon supposedly protected and the “aggregated” seller data that its private-label business could use.”
Amazon also allegedly lied to Congress about manipulating consumers’ search results, according to the committee.
“After Amazon was caught in a lie and repeated misrepresentations, it stonewalled the Committee’s efforts to uncover the truth. The Committee gave Amazon a final opportunity to provide evidence either correcting the record or corroborating the representations it had made to the Committee under oath and in written statements,” the letter says. “Instead of taking advantage of this opportunity to provide clarity, however, Amazon offered conclusory denials of adverse facts. In a November 1, 2021 communication to the Committee, a senior Amazon official dismissed the reports as inaccurate, attributing them to ‘key misunderstandings and speculation.'”
The judiciary committee further accused Amazon of refusing to turn over any documents related to the investigation they claim to have run on the manipulation of consumer search results.
The bipartisan letter also claims Amazon obstructed a congressional investigation.
“Amazon and its executives appear to have been “acting with an improper purpose” “to influence, obstruct, or impede . . . the due and proper exercise of the power of inquiry under which any inquiry or investigation is being had,” the letter says. “Amazon has declined multiple opportunities to demonstrate with credible evidence that it made accurate and complete representations to the Committee during the Committee’s digital-markets investigation. The Committee’s findings and credible investigative reports suggest that Amazon’s representations were misleading and incomplete. And Amazon’s failure to correct or corroborate those representations suggests that Amazon and its executives have acted intentionally to improperly influence, obstruct, or impede the Committee’s investigation and inquiries.”
All of these reasons, the letter says, amount to enough substance for a Justice Department referral “to investigate whether Amazon or its executives obstructed Congress or violated other applicable federal laws.”
“There’s no factual basis for this, as demonstrated in the huge volume of information we’ve provided over several years of good faith cooperation with this investigation,” an Amazon spokesperson told ABC News.
A Justice Department spokesperson said the department has received the letter and will review it.