Top Amazon officials, including former CEO Jeff Bezos, appear to have misled Congress regarding the company's treatment of third-party sellers, according to a bipartisan group of lawmakers.
The leaders of the House Judiciary Committee's antitrust probe into Big Tech said, in a Monday letter to Andy Jassy, that recent reports contradict company officials' claims that Amazon doesn't preference its own offerings above those of third-party sellers on the site and doesn't use the private data of individual sellers to compete against them.
The letter comes after a Reuters report found last week that Amazon engaged in "a formal, clandestine strategy" in India of copying other sellers' goods with its own brands and then ensured its offerings appeared near the top of searches. An investigation in The Markup found similar behavior in the U.S.
"At best, this reporting confirms that Amazon's representatives misled the Committee," the five lawmakers wrote. "At worst, it demonstrates that they may have lied to Congress in possible violation of federal criminal law."
The members of Congress urged Amazon to send "truthful" responses "as we consider whether a referral of this matter to the Department of Justice for criminal investigation is appropriate."
The letter cited several instances of testimony from Amazon lawyers and officials that the lawmakers said "directly contradicts" the recent reports, including the appearance last year from Bezos, who was then CEO.
Committee leaders had previously expressed worries about the truthfulness of Amazon's answer on the topic, suggesting ahead of securing Bezos' testimony that he needed to appear to put the matter to rest.
Amazon said Monday in a statement it "did not mislead the committee," stressing that its search function prioritizes what customers want and its policy "prohibits the use of individual seller data to develop Amazon private label products."
"We investigate any allegations that this policy may have been violated and take appropriate action," the company said.
This article was updated to include an Amazon statement.