Amazon is in hot water with the feds, who say the e-commerce giant should be investigated for criminal obstruction of Congress.
A bipartisan group of lawmakers has asked the Department of Justice to investigate the online retailer for making false and misleading statements to the House Judiciary Committee during a 16-month investigation into whether Apple, Amazon, Google, and Facebook were making it impossible for other companies to compete with them.
In a 24-page letter to the DOJ, the lawmakers claim Amazon not only lied, but refused to turn over evidence that would "either corroborate its claims or correct the record." The letter adds, “It appears to have done so to conceal 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 — subjects of the Committee’s investigation."
Amazon has long been in the hot seat regarding whether it uses data from third-party sellers to give its own private-label products a leg up. A Wall Street Journal investigation from 2020 found that Amazon used that data to help it price and market its own brands. The company has also been accused of tinkering with its search results in order to ensure that its own products get better billing.
Lawmakers pointed to “credible investigative reporting” that directly contradicts testimony from then-CEO Jeff Bezos and other Amazon executives. The committee also found that former Amazon employees as well as current and former sellers offered testimony that backed up the reports by Reuters, The Wall Street Journal, and others.
Whether the Department of Justice will press charges remains to be seen.