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Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos asked to testify before US Congress

Washington: The US House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary has called on Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos to testify before it as part of an antitrust probe.

Washington: The US House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary has called on Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos to testify before it as part of an antitrust probe.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos

The demand came after Democratic leaders accused Amazon officials of providing misleading statements to Congress.

The House Judiciary Committee is investigating Amazon's role in the digital marketplace.

Last September, it requested documents and communications related to Amazon's relationship with sellers, including Amazon's use of third-party sellers' data.

'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 lawmakers said in their letter to Bezos on Friday.

'It is vital to the Committee, as part of its critical work investigating and understanding competition issues in the digital market, that Amazon respond to these and other critical questions concerning competition issues in digital markets.'

The committee even threatened to subpoena Bezos in case he fails to comply.

'Although we expect that you will testify on a voluntary basis, we reserve the right to resort to compulsory process if necessary,' the lawmakers wrote in the letter.

The letter mentioned a Wall Street Journal report on April 23 that said that Amazon employees used sensitive business information from third-party sellers on its platform to develop competing products.

The report was based on interviews with over 20 former or current Amazon employees and the company's internal documents.

'If these allegations are true, then Amazon exploited its role as the largest online marketplace in the U.S. to appropriate the sensitive commercial data of individual marketplace sellers and then used that data to compete directly with those sellers,' the committee said.

Amazon's stock was down nearly 7 per cent Friday after the announcement, CNBC reported.

In the first quarter of 2020, Amazon's net sales increased 26 per cent to $75.5 billion compared with $59.7 billion in the same quarter last year.

Bezos on Thursday said the company expects to spend $4 billion or more on COVID-19-related expenses in the second quarter.

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