WASHINGTON — Congress members from both parties are demanding Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos appear to explain previous sworn statements by a top Amazon lawyer about business practices that may have been “criminally false or perjurious.”
The surprise request from the bipartisan group follows a report in the Wall Street Journal in April saying the company used business intelligence gleaned from third-party sellers operating through Amazon in developing its own competing products, the members said in a letter released Friday morning.
The letter represents the latest setback for the digital retail behemoth, which has been beset by criticism over safety practices at its warehouses during the coronavirus pandemic and its attempts to discredit one of its own workers who spoke out in protest.
“If the reporting in the Wall Street Journal article is accurate, then statements Amazon made to the Committee about the company’s business practices appear to be misleading, and possibly criminally false or perjurious,” said the letter, signed by a diverse group from both parties, including the prominent Democratic chairman of the House Judiciary Committee Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) and provocative Republican firebrand Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.).
“Amazon's associate general counsel, Nate Sutton, denied the company did this during his sworn testimony before the Antitrust Subcommittee last July,” they wrote.
Sutton testified about Amazon’s business practices in July amid a House investigation into the company’s role in the digital marketplace. Now, the representatives are demanding Bezos personally appear to explain what’s going on.
“In light of our ongoing investigation, recent public reporting, and Amazon’s prior testimony before the Committee, we expect you, as Chief Executive Officer of Amazon, to testify before the Committee,” the letter read.
A subpoena might be coming if Bezos refuses.
“Although we expect that you will testify on a voluntary basis, we reserve the right to resort to compulsory process if necessary,” they wrote.
Cover: Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos talks during a ceremony near the Saudi Arabia consulate in Istanbul, Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2019. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)