The Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) on Tuesday demanded an inquiry by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) over a report that lawyers of e-commerce giant Amazon India have bribed certain government officials.
According to sources cited by news agency PTI, Amazon spent a staggering Rs 8,546 crore in legal expenses for maintaining a presence in the country during 2018-20.
Sources aware of the firm's public account filings said six entities of Amazon —Amazon India Ltd (Holding Company), Amazon Retail India Pvt Ltd, Amazon Seller Services Pvt Ltd, Amazon Transportation Services Pvt Ltd, Amazon Wholesale (India) Pvt Ltd, and Amazon Internet Services Pvt Ltd (AWS) —paid Rs 3,420 crore in India during 2018-19 and Rs 5,126 crore during 2019-20 towards legal fees.
In a letter to Union Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal, CAIT National Secretary General Praveen Khandelwal said, “The whopping amount spent under legal professional fees clearly shows how Amazon and its subsidiaries are misusing their financial muscles to bribe and manipulate Indian government officials."
Citing a Morning Context report, CAIT said it clearly shows over Rs 8,546 crore, which is almost 20 percent of the turnover, as legal profession fee is sufficient to corroborate the changes levlled by the whistle-blower.
The development comes a day after Amazon.com Inc launched an internal investigation in India after a whistleblower alleged an employee had taken kickbacks, a source with direct knowledge of the case told Reuters on Monday. In a statement, the US giant said it has "zero tolerance" for corruption.
The sources cited by Reuters said, Amazon has been investigating the matter for about two months after a complaint was received about the dealings Amazon India legal team employee, Rahul Sundaram, had with outside counsel working for the firm.
Sundaram has been sent on leave by Amazon pending the investigation, Reuters reported.
(With agency inputs)
(Edited by : Kanishka Sarkar)
First Published: IST