Amazon probes in-house counsel and law firms amid bribery allegations

In the recent events that could trigger a serious probe against the company, Amazon is conducting internal probes against its legal counsel and representatives. This move came in after a whistleblower alleged the company of bribing the Indian government officials by its representatives. 

As per the statement from the internal sources, there were ‘accounting irregularities in payments’ made to the company’s consultants. A house counsel from Delhi has already been sent on leave, and a junior staffer hired by Amazon was laid off post the initial probe. 

Responding to the allegations, Amazon stated that the company has zero-tolerance for corruption. The statement also read that the company considers the improper allegations seriously, probes them, and decides the appropriate action. The company also stated that there would be no comments on any allegations or the status of the investigation as of now. 

Meanwhile, the government officials stated that the US-based e-Commerce giant has been spending more than Rs. 8,500 crores towards the legal fee. “The whole system seems to work on bribes and that is not the best of business practices,” stated the officials and urged the company to punish everyone breaking the law. 

The government officials also cited some public accounts of some firms under Amazon whose statements showed around Rs. 8,500 crores in legal fee for the last two years. 

As per a report from a leading website The Morning Content, the legal fee paid by the company to an independent lawyer was in part funneled to bribe the authorities. However, Amazon has neither supported nor denied these allegations at present. 

Amazon probes in-house counsel and law firms

It is always seen that US-based companies like Amazon consider such whistleblower allegations seriously, especially when the issues are related to bribing foreign officials. This is also to ensure that the company complies with the rules set by the governments. 

As per the latest developments, the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) has demanded a CBI probe into the matter in their letter to Mr. Piyush Goyal, the Union Commerce Minister. The letter from the union stated that the issue involves the government’s credibility. The union also stated that this is a counter to the government’s vision of eliminating corruption at all levels internally. 

The union also demanded that the officials involved in the matter be punished accordingly. Furthermore, the union stated that they would soon approach Gary Gensler, the Chairman for US Securities and Exchange Commission, and ask for an independent and fair probe. 

The National President for CAIT PC Bhartia and its Secretary-General Praveen Khandelwal stated that the inquiry needs to identify whether the allegations have a connection with the current investigation or if it is based on the constant law and rules violation of the company. 

Right now, Amazon is already being scrutinized by the Competition Commission of India for allegations based on anti-competitive practices, preferential treatment towards sellers, and rapacious pricing. The company is also fighting with the Future Group legally over the Rs. 24,717 crores deal with Reliance Retail. 

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