Amazon sues ED for quashing investigation into Future Group deal



Amazon.com Inc is suing India’s financial crime agency, seeking to quash an investigation into one of its 2019 deals, according to a court record seen by Reuters.

India’s Enforcement Directorate (ED) has been investigating for months Amazon’s $ 200 million investment in India’s Future Group for alleged violations of foreign investment laws.

The investment is at the center of protracted legal battles, as Amazon used the terms of that deal – and cited contract breaches by Future – to block the sale of $ 3.4 billion of the company’s retail assets. Indian company to a rival.

In an 816-page file, viewed by Reuters, Amazon calls the investigative inquiry “fishing and roaming,” saying the ED had sought privileged legal advice and opinions from Amazon and other information not related to the Future Group agreement.

Several Amazon executives, including its Indian chief, had been summoned by the ED in recent weeks and the investigation had caused “unnecessary harassment”, the US e-commerce giant said in its case before the Delhi High Court December 21.

“The ED’s instructions requesting the disclosure of legally privileged documents and litigation privilege information violate the principles” set out in India’s constitution, Amazon said in the file, which is not public.

“The inquiry is an exercise in fishing and roaming.”

Amazon and the ED, which does not release details of its investigations, did not immediately respond to requests for comment. The case will likely be heard on Thursday.

The filing is the latest twist in the long-running dispute between Amazon and Future. Although the Indian antitrust body suspended its 2019 deal last week, claiming that Amazon removed information when it applied for approval, the ED’s investigation is independent of this.

The dispute revolves around three trade agreements signed between the entities Future and Amazon, which, according to a Singapore arbitration panel – also seized of the dispute – should be read together when reviewing the transaction.

Future argues that confusing the trade agreements would effectively mean that the agreement would violate Indian law.

Amazon’s court file contained an ED notice dated February 19 that requested details of its investment in Future, including copies of agreements, bank details, and other related internal communications.

It also showed that the ED was conducting a much larger survey and researched details of the major vendors on Amazon’s India e-commerce website, including sales figures for those over 5%. of total sales on Amazon.in.

The notice came after a Reuters investigation in February that found that Amazon had helped a small number of sellers thrive on its Indian platform, giving them reduced fees and using them to circumvent laws on the Foreign investments.

Amazon said at the time that it was confident it was complying with the regulations and “not giving preferential treatment to any seller in its market.”

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