Amazon sues financial crime agency in final round of Indian battle


NEW DELHI: Amazon.com Inc is suing India’s financial crime agency, seeking to quash an investigation into one of its 2019 deals, according to a court record seen by Reuters.

For months, India’s Enforcement Department (ED) has been investigating Amazon’s US $ 200 million investment in India’s Future Group for alleged violations of foreign investment laws.

The investment is at the center of protracted legal battles, as Amazon used the terms of that deal – and cited contract breaches by Future – to block the sale of US $ 3.4 billion of retail assets. Indian society has a rival.

In an 816-page file, viewed by Reuters, Amazon calls the investigative inquiry “fishing and roaming,” saying the ED had sought privileged legal advice and opinions from Amazon and other uninformed information. related to the Future Group agreement.

Several Amazon executives, including its Indian chief, had been summoned by the ED in recent weeks and the investigation had caused “unnecessary harassment”, the US e-commerce giant said in its case before the Delhi High Court December 21.

“The ED’s instructions requesting the disclosure of legally privileged documents and litigation privilege information violate the principles” set forth in India’s constitution, Amazon said in the file, which is not public.

“The inquiry is an exercise in fishing and roaming.”

Amazon and the ED, which does not release details of its investigations, did not immediately respond to requests for comment. The case will likely be heard on Thursday.

The filing is the latest twist in the long-running dispute between Amazon and Future. Although the Indian antitrust body suspended its 2019 deal last week, claiming that Amazon removed information when it applied for approval, the ED’s investigation is independent of this.

The dispute revolves around three trade agreements signed between the Future and Amazon entities, which a Singapore arbitration panel – also seized of the dispute – says must be read together when reviewing the transaction.

Future argues that merging the trade deals would actually mean that the deal would violate Indian law.

Amazon’s court file contained an ED notice dated February 19 that requested details of its investment in Future, including copies of agreements, bank details, and other related internal communications.

It also showed that the ED was conducting a much larger survey and researched details of the major vendors on Amazon’s India e-commerce website, including sales figures for those over 5%. of total sales on Amazon.in.

The notice came after a Reuters investigation in February which found that Amazon had helped a small number of sellers thrive on its Indian platform, by giving them reduced fees and using them to circumvent lawsuits. Foreign investments.

Amazon said at the time that it was confident it was complying with the regulations and “not giving preferential treatment to any seller in its market.”

(Reporting by Aditya Kalra in New Delhi; editing by Mark Potter)


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