The Indian antitrust body told a court on Friday that a Reuters report showing Amazon.com Inc was giving preferential treatment to a small group of sellers on its Indian platform corroborated the evidence it had received that had triggered an investigation into the American e-commerce giant.
The Competition Commission of India (ICC) announced in January 2020 that it was investigating Amazon and Flipkart following a complaint from a group of merchants that they were promoting preferred sellers. But the investigation into alleged competition law violations has been suspended as the two companies launched a legal challenge.
While pleading for the resumption of the investigation on Friday, Madhavi Goradia Divan, India’s additional solicitor general representing the ICC, read parts of the Reuters report to the Karnataka High Court judge, saying it “corroborates what had been said “in the original complaint.
The Reuters story, which was released last month, was based on internal Amazon documents dated between 2012 and 2019. It revealed that Amazon has for years helped a small number of sellers thrive on its platform. -form, offering them reduced fees and helping to close specials. major technology manufacturers.
Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Divan’s statements in court.
Amazon has said that it “does not give preferential treatment to any seller in its market” and that it “treats all sellers in a fair, transparent and non-discriminatory manner.”
The ICC’s arguments in the case come after the watchdog this week submitted news clippings, including the Reuters story, as part of its court exhibits.
Referring to Amazon documents cited in the Reuters article, Divan said the ICC’s director general of investigations may request and review the company’s documents.
Indian retailers, who are a crucial part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s support base, have long alleged that Amazon’s platform largely benefits a few big sellers and that the ecommerce company is charging predatory prices that hurt. to their businesses. The company says it complies with all Indian laws.
Divan read the Reuters story in court for about 15 minutes. This included the finding that some 35 of Amazon’s more than 400,000 sellers in India at the start of 2019 accounted for around two-thirds of its online sales.
She also referred to documents cited in the article which showed that Amazon was deeply involved in the expansion of a big seller on its platform named Cloudtail – in which it has an indirect stake – even though it publicly stated that Cloudtail was granted the same privileges as other vendors.
Are you doing this for all sellers, Divan said, referring to Amazon. “These are questions that must be asked.”
After the Reuters article was published, India’s financial crime agency Enforcement Branch asked Amazon for information and documents related to its operations in the country, Reuters reported on the week. last.