House committee makes allegations of potential Amazon ‘criminal conduct’ to Justice Department

The allegations involve data collected by Amazon from third-party sellers.

The House Judiciary Committee wrote to Attorney General Merrick Garland alerting him to “potential criminal conduct by Amazon and certain of its executives,” in a letter written by committee members and obtained by ABC News.

The Judiciary Committee, led by Antitrust Subcommittee Chairman David Cicilline, alleges that Amazon lied to Congress about whether or not to use data collected from third-party sellers.

“Throughout the committee’s investigation, Amazon attempted to cover up its lie by offering ever-changing explanations of what it called its ‘Seller Data Protection Policy,'” the letter states. “Among other things, in written statements to the Committee, Amazon made a distinction between ‘individual’ seller data that Amazon is supposed to protect and ‘aggregated’ seller data that its private label business might use.”

Amazon also allegedly lied to Congress about manipulating consumer search results, the committee found.

“After Amazon was caught lying and repeatedly misrepresenting it, it blocked the Committee’s efforts to uncover the truth. The Committee gave Amazon one final opportunity to provide evidence either to correct the record, either to corroborate statements he had made to the Committee under oath and in written statements,” the letter reads. “Instead of taking this opportunity to provide clarification, however, Amazon offered conclusive 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 conducted into the manipulation of consumer search results.

The bipartisan letter also claims that Amazon obstructed a congressional investigation.

“Amazon and its executives appear to have ‘acted for an improper purpose’ ‘to influence, hinder or impede. . . due and proper exercise of investigative power under which any inquiry or inquiry is conducted,” the letter reads. “Amazon has repeatedly refused to demonstrate with credible evidence that it has made accurate and complete statements to the Committee during the Committee’s digital review. -market research. The Committee’s findings and credible investigative reports suggest that Amazon’s representations were misleading and incomplete. And Amazon’s failure to correct or substantiate these representations suggests that Amazon and its executives acted intentionally to improperly influence, impede, or impede the Committee’s inquiry and investigations.”

All of these reasons, the letter says, are substantial enough for a Justice Department referral to “investigate whether Amazon or its officers have obstructed Congress or violated other applicable federal laws.”

“There is no factual basis for this, as evidenced by the enormous volume of information we have provided over several years of good faith cooperation with this investigation,” an Amazon spokesperson said. at ABC News.

A Justice Department spokesperson said the department had received the letter and would review it.

ABC News

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