Politics

Congress threatens Jeff Bezos with a subpoena and a 'perjury referral' for Amazon

The move follows a report that Amazon used business information from third-party sellers to develop competing products.

Jeff Bezos

Members of Congress want Jeff Bezos to testify.

Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

Congress is threatening to hit Amazon with perjury charges and subpoena Jeff Bezos.

The announcement, from key members of the House Judiciary Committee, comes after a Wall Street Journal report found that Amazon used business information from third-party sellers on its platform to develop competing products — directly contradicting testimony to Congress from Amazon's general counsel Nate Sutton last year.

"If the reporting in the Wall Street Journal article is accurate, then statements Amazon made to the Committee about the company's business practices appear to be misleading, and possibly criminally false or perjurious," wrote House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler, Antitrust Subcommittee Chair David Cicilline and an assortment of other top Democrats and two Republicans.

The committee, which is investigating the top tech companies for potential antitrust violations, has been mulling whether to subpoena executives including Bezos for months.

The recent reporting has pushed the committee to finally play its hand. It will be hard for Bezos to refuse the committee's invitation because Nadler has subpoena power.

"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.

Cicilline tweeted out the perjury threat: "In light of the gravity of this situation, I am also considering whether a perjury referral is warranted," he wrote. He added: As CEO and founder of the company, @JeffBezos must be accountable for Amazon's record of dishonesty before Congress."

Amazon did not immediately respond to Protocol's request for comment. Amazon has said it is conducting an internal investigation into the Journal's report, implying individual employees might have violated its policies.

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