According to the letter, when Amazon.com Inc sought permission for a 2019 investment in a Future Group firm, India’s antitrust authorities accused the company of concealing facts and making false claims. The letter adds to Amazon’s long-running legal dispute with Future Group over the latter’s plan to sell its retail operations to Reliance Industries NSE -0.71 percent, which is currently before India’s Supreme Court.
Amazon claims that the terms of its 2019 contract to pay $192 million for a 49 percent share in Future’s gift voucher segment restrict Future Group’s parent company, Future Retail Ltd, from selling the company to Reliance.
The Competition Commission of India (CCI) claimed in a letter dated June 4 that Amazon obscured factual components of the transaction by not disclosing its strategic stake in Future Retail when seeking clearance for the 2019 acquisition.
The letter included, “The representations and conduct of Amazon before the Commission amounts to misrepresentation, making false statements and suppression or/and concealment of material facts.”
It also stated that a complaint from Future Group sparked its assessment of the submitted materials. The CCI questioned why Amazon should not take action and punish the company for submitting false information in a four-page “show-cause notice.” Amazon has yet to respond, according to a source with direct knowledge of the issue who declined to be identified because the letter has not been made public. Amazon stated in a statement that it had received a letter, that it was dedicated to following Indian laws, and that it would cooperate fully with the CCI.
Future and the CCI representatives declined to make any comments. It was unusual for the CCI to send such a warning, according to Vaibhav Choukse, a competition law specialist and partner at J. Sagar Associates, and if the CCI was not pleased with Amazon’s response, it might result in a fine and perhaps a reconsideration of the acquisition.
“The CCI has wide powers which include directions to refile the approval application and even revoke the approval under exceptional circumstances,” Choukse said.