Days after India’s antitrust watchdog CCI quashed the Amazon-Future Coupons 2019 deal, the ecommerce giant has filed a petition against India’s financial crime-fighting agency enforcement directorate (ED) in Delhi High Court.
According to the filing, Amazon has sought clarification on the ‘unnecessary’ summons issued by ED to Amazon employees, amounting to ‘unnecessary harassment’. Besides this, the company also noted that the ED is carrying out the investigation in a manner that is ‘beyond the scope and power’ under India’s foreign exchange laws.
Further, it has alleged that ED has been probing into matters beyond the deal in question, accusing it of unnecessarily harassing its employees and overstepping its authority. The ecom giant has, thus, requested the Delhi HC to pass an interim order, staying all investigations, inquiries, summons or proceedings commenced by the ED.
ED had commenced investigations into Amazon last month over petitions of the US-based ecommerce firm bypassing India’s foreign exchange law while buying 49% in Future Coupons. Multiple Amazon executives, including its India-head Amit Agarwal, had been summoned by the ED in recent weeks.
Since January 2021, ED has been receiving complaints about the matter, especially from traders’ body CAIT. In October, Future Retail’s independent directors also accused the ecom giant of flouting India’s FDI and FEMA rules, asking CCI’s probe into the matter. Amazon not only denied the allegations but also went on to argue that CCI has no power to revoke the deal since its approval was a final one, not conditional.
After CCI, ED launched an independent probe into the Amazon-Future deal, continuing well beyond CCI’s suspension of the deal.
The deal in question was the one with which Amazon was threatening Future Retail and Reliance Retail’s $3.4 Bn deal.
ED has also been probing into Amazon’s favouritism towards certain sellers after a Reuters report highlighted that the company misrepresented facts to potentially help sellers where Amazon had an indirect stake, among other violations under India’s FDI rules.
“The investigation is a fishing and roving exercise,” Amazon said in its plea to the Delhi HC. The plea will be heard before the high court bench led by Justice Rekha Palli today (December 23).