US House lawmakers are threatening to seek a criminal investigation of Amazon, saying the tech giant has a “final chance” to correct its executives’ previous testimony on its competition practices.
The lawmakers sent a letter Monday to Amazon President and CEO Andy Jassy saying they were giving the company until Nov. 1 to “correct the record” and provide new documents and evidence. The missive marks an escalation in the bipartisan battle against Amazon by the House Judiciary Committee panel that has investigated the market dominance of Big Tech.
The letter says the antitrust subcommittee is considering referring the case to the Justice Department for criminal investigation. It accuses the world’s biggest online retailer of at least misleading Congress and possibly outright lying.
It cites recent media reports detailing Amazon’s alleged practice of undercutting the businesses that sell on its platform by making “knock-offs,” or very similar products, and boosting their presence on the site.
The reports directly contradict the sworn testimony of Amazon executives and other statements to Congress, the letter says. It was signed by Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., and the Democratic and Republican leaders of the antitrust panel.
“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 said.
Jassy took over the top position at Seattle-based Amazon from founder Jeff Bezos in July. Bezos became executive chairman.
Amazon denied that its executives had misled the panel in their testimony.
“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,” the company said in a statement. “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.
Amazon said it investigates any allegations of violations of its policies and takes “appropriate action” when warranted.