- Five lawmakers asked Amazon to provide evidence its executives did not mislead Congress, per reports.
- Recent reporting “contradicts the sworn testimony” of executives, including Jeff Bezos, they wrote.
- The representatives are considering whether to refer Amazon to the Department of Justice.
Five lawmakers have written to Amazon accusing executives, including former CEO Jeff Bezos, of either lying or misleading Congress while testifying under oath, The Wall Street Journal and Reuters reported.
The lawmakers wrote to Amazon CEO Andy Jassy on Sunday, asking him to provide evidence that the executives had not misled Congress when they testified that Amazon did not use third-party seller data to copy products, and that it did not favour its own in-house brands, Reuters reported.
Amazon denied that executives had misled lawmakers.
The letter comes after two separate news publications reported Amazon’s treatment of third-party sellers on its platform.
Reuters reported Wednesday that Amazon’s India business had systematically copied smaller sellers on its platform and rigged its search results to boost its own brands. Tech news site The Markup published an investigation Thursday, reporting that Amazon placed its in-house brands ahead of its competitors’ products.
In the letter, the lawmakers said that “credible reporting” by Reuters and others “directly contradicts the sworn testimony and representations of Amazon’s top executives – including former CEO Jeffrey Bezos,” according to a copy of the letter viewed by Reuters.
“At best, this reporting confirms that Amazon’s representatives misled the Committee. At worst, it demonstrates that they may have lied to Congress in possible violation of federal criminal law,” the lawmakers wrote, per Reuters.
Answering a question from Rep. Pramila Jayapal during a congressional committee hearing in July 2020, Bezos said: “What I can tell you is we have a policy against using seller-specific data to aid our private-label business.”
“But I can’t guarantee you that policy has never been violated,” he added.
Jayapal is one of the authors of Sunday’s letter, which was also signed by bipartisan Reps. David Cicilline, Ken Buck, Jerrold Nadler, and Matt Gaetz per The Journal.
“We strongly encourage you to make use of this opportunity to correct the record and provide the Committee with sworn, truthful, and accurate responses to this request as we consider whether a referral of this matter to the Department of Justice for criminal investigation is appropriate,” the letter reads, as reviewed by The Journal.
An Amazon spokesperson told Insider that “Amazon and its executives did not mislead the committee, and we have denied and sought to correct the record on the inaccurate media articles in question.”
“As we have previously stated, we have an internal policy, which goes beyond that of any other retailer’s policy that we’re aware of, that prohibits the use of individual seller data to develop Amazon private label products,” they said.
“We investigate any allegations that this policy may have been violated and take appropriate action. In addition, we design our search experience to feature the items customers will want to purchase, regardless of whether they are offered by Amazon or one of our selling partners,” they said.
Alongside Bezos, the letter reportedly names Amazon’s associate general counsel, Nate Sutton, who gave evidence to Congress in July 2019. It also refers to correspondence from Amazon general counsel David Zapolsky and vice president for public policy Brian Huseman, per the reports.
Amazon’s spokesperson said the Reuters’ report on India business, The Markup’s reporting, and The Wall Street Journal’s reporting were an inaccurate representation of the company.