A bipartisan group of House Judiciary Committee members alerted the Justice Department to “potentially criminal conduct” by Amazon and senior executives in relation to a committee investigation into competition in digital markets, reports the Washington Post. In a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland, the lawmakers, including Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y), accuse Amazon of engaging in a “pattern and practice” of misleading conduct that appeared designed to “influence, obstruct, or impede” the committee. The referral is a significant escalation of lawmakers’ questioning of statements Amazon executives made during their 16-month investigation into competition in digital markets that concluded in 2020. The committee members' letter accuses the Seattle-based company of lying in sworn testimony to the committee in 2019 about whether it uses data that it collects from third-party sellers to compete with them. “[C]redible investigative reporting” and the committee’s probe showed that the company was engaging in the practice despite its denial, the letter said. As the investigation continued, Amazon tried to “cover up its lie by offering ever-shifting explanations” of its policies, the letter said. “After Amazon was caught in a lie and repeated misrepresentations, it stonewalled the Committee’s efforts to uncover the truth,” the members said.
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