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'Zero tolerance,' says Amazon amid reports of corruption claims being investigated in India

The US e-commerce behemoth said on Monday that it takes claims of inappropriate behaviour seriously and thoroughly examines them before taking necessary action.

Amazon says zero tolerance amid reports of corruption investigation in India gcw
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New Delhi, First Published Sep 20, 2021, 5:52 PM IST
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In the wake of news that Amazon is investigating bribery-related charges against some of its legal staff in India, the US e-commerce behemoth said on Monday that it takes claims of inappropriate behaviour seriously and thoroughly examines them before taking necessary action. Amazon stated that it has "zero tolerance for corruption" without confirming or rejecting the claims. Amazon has launched an inquiry into some of its legal representatives, according to The Morning Context, for allegedly paying Indian government officials. In this case, the company's senior corporate lawyer is said to have been placed on leave.

When contacted, an Amazon representative stated that the company has a zero tolerance policy for corruption. They take complaints of wrongdoing seriously, conduct thorough investigations, and take necessary action. At this point, they are refusing to comment on specific claims or the progress of any inquiry. According to a source familiar with the situation, US-based firms such as Amazon take whistleblower accusations seriously, particularly those involving paying bribes to foreign government officials in order to keep or gain business. This is also to guarantee that corporate governance requirements are followed.

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Meanwhile, the CAIT, a trade association, has requested a CBI investigation, claiming that the problem concerns the government's legitimacy and runs opposed to the government's objective of eliminating corruption at all levels. The Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) also requested that the officials' identities be made public and held accountable for their actions. CAIT, which has written to Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal, has also written to US Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Gary Gensler, requesting a "fair and independent investigation" into the matter.

The news comes as India's fair trade authority is investigating Amazon, the Competition Commission of India (CCI), for suspected anti-competitive behaviour, predatory pricing, and seller preferential treatment. In addition, Amazon is embroiled in a legal battle with Future Group. Amazon is disputing Future Group and Reliance Retail Ventures Ltd's 24,713-crore transaction and has taken Future Group to the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC). It claims that Future broke the contract by forming a partnership with competitor Reliance.
Amazon and Future Group have also filed lawsuits in Indian courts, including the Supreme Court.

CAIT National President BC Bhartia and Secretary General Praveen Khandelwal said it needs to be inquired whether the alleged bribery has "any connection with the ongoing investigation or related with continuous violation of the law and rules by Amazon". These steps are required to protect Indian e-commerce market and the retail trade from undue influence, abuse of dominance and connivance with government officials, which falls under Anti-Corruption Act, they added.

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The development comes at a time when Amazon is facing a probe by fair trade watchdog, Competition Commission of India (CCI), for alleged anti-competitive practices, predatory pricing and preferential treatment of sellers. Amazon is also locked in a legal tussle with Future Group. Amazon is contesting the ₹ 24,713-crore deal between Future Group and Reliance Retail Ventures Ltd and has dragged Future Group to the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC). It has argued that Future violated the contract by entering into the deal with rival Reliance. Amazon and Future Group had also filed litigations in Indian courts, including the Supreme Court, on the issue. Amazon is an investor in Future Coupons, that in turn is a shareholder in Future Retail Ltd.

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