Amazon accuses FTC of harassing Bezos in ‘burdensome’ probe

The United States Federal Trade Commission has been probing the retail giant for potential anticompetitive behaviour for several years.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos speaks during the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is seeking to quash the FTC’s request directed at him, arguing that the commission could obtain the same information from documents and Amazon executives' testimony [File: Paul Ellis/Reuters] Inc. accused the US Federal Trade Commission of harassing its founder Jeff Bezos and the company’s Chief Executive Officer Andy Jassy as it conducts an antitrust probe of the e-commerce giant’s business practices.

In a filing made public on Monday, Amazon claimed that FTC staff have made “unduly burdensome” demands as it investigates whether the company’s subscription services, including Amazon Prime, violate antitrust laws. The online retailer is seeking to quash or limit the FTC’s most recent civil investigative demands, which are similar to subpoenas.

Amazon said the FTC’s requests are “unworkable for Amazon to discern the information staff demands and to respond in the timeframe allowed.”

The FTC has been investigating Amazon for potential anticompetitive conduct for several years. The filing offers an unusually public glimpse into the ongoing struggle between one of the world’s biggest companies and one of its regulators.

FTC Chair Lina Khan, who took over the position in June 2021, has escalated the investigation, shaking up the team, re-interviewing potential witnesses and asking questions about the company’s recent acquisition of MGM Studios, Bloomberg reported in May.

The Biden administration has stepped up antitrust enforcement as a keystone of its economic policy, seeking to reverse what antitrust officials view as decades of lax oversight over corporate consolidation and market power.

The FTC served individual information demands to 20 current and former Amazon employees at their homes in June, according to the filing.

Bezos and Jassy are also petitioning to quash the FTC’s requests directed at them, arguing that the commission could obtain the same information from the documents and testimony that company executives have already offered.

Source: Bloomberg