- Amazon to be investigated by Indian Govt in bribe charges
- Amazon, too, has launched a probe against some of its legal representatives over the bribe allegations
- A whistleblower flagged allegations of Amazon bribing Indian government officials
On Tuesday, the Indian Government said that the allegations of Amazon’s legal representatives bribing officials in India will be investigated, and stressed on a “zero-tolerance” policy towards corruption.
The US-based e-commerce giant is also believed to have launched a probe into the allegation reported by a US website.
The officials said, “As far as the government of India is concerned there is ZERO tolerance towards corruption of ANY kind in the government”.
The officials said that the reports failed to clarify “which era” the alleged act took place and in which state.
The government officials said, “Amazon has been spending more than ₹ 8,500 crore in legal fees. It’s time to think where all it is going.
“The whole system seems to work on bribes and that is not the best of business practices,” as they lashed out at Amazon and urged the company to punish those breaking the law.
The officials cited the public accounts of some of the companies of Amazon which showed close to ₹ 8,500 crore in legal fee in two years.
Going by the report by the website The Morning Context, Amazon has already launched an internal investigation against some of its legal representatives after a whistleblower flagged allegations of bribing Indian government officials.
The company’s senior corporate counsel has reportedly been sent on leave.
The report said that the legal fees paid to an independent lawyer which was hired by the company was in part “funnelled into bribing government officials”.
Yesterday, the reports quoted Amazon as saying it takes allegations of improper actions seriously and investigates them fully to take appropriate action.
Amazon neither admitted or denied of the allegations but said it has “zero tolerance for corruption”.
An Amazon spokesperson was quoted as saying, “We have zero tolerance for corruption. We take allegations of improper actions seriously, investigate them fully, and take appropriate action. We are not commenting on specific allegations or the status of any investigation at this time,” by news agency PTI.
Quoting an unnamed person close to the developments, PTI wrote, that the US-based companies such as Amazon take whistleblower complaints seriously, “especially those related to payment of bribes to foreign government officials in order to retain or obtain business”.
This is also to ensure compliance with corporate governance rules.
The Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) has also written to the Union Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal demanding a CBI inquiry into the allegations, saying it involves the credibility of the government and is counter to the vision of removing corruption at all levels within the government.
The traders’ body has also extended a limb to demand that the names of the officials involved should be made public and punished.
CAIT said it would also be approaching the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chairman Gary Gensler to demand a “fair and independent probe”.
CAIT National President B C Bhartia and its Secretary General Praveen Khandelwal said that it needs to be inquired whether the alleged bribery has “any connection with the ongoing investigation or related with continuous violation of the law and rules by Amazon”.
They said that these steps were needed to protect the e-commerce market of India and retail trade from “undue influence, abuse of dominance and connivance with government officials”.
Amazin, in India, is already surrounded by harsh scrutiny of the Competition Commission of India over alleged anti-competitive practices, predatory pricing and preferential treatment of sellers.
Amazon is also legally fighting the Future Group over its ₹ 24,713 crore deal with its retail rival in India, Reliance Retail which is owned by Reliance India Limited.
Amazon is an investor in Future Coupons, which is a shareholder in Future Retail.