Saturday 15 February 2020

CCI calls Amazon’s arguments ‘mischievous’, begins probe

CCI calls Amazon’s arguments ‘mischievous’, begins probeBengaluru/New Delhi: The Competition Commission of India (CCI) slammed Amazon India in the Karnataka high court (HC) on Thursday, saying its arguments were “mischievous” and that it is not answerable to the Seattle-based technology major before it begins a probe.

CCI has also started its probe even as Amazon is fighting for an interim stay order on the same in the HC. Three sources aware of the matter said members of the Delhi Vyapar Mahasangh had gone to the CCI office on Thursday to make the first deposition in the matter. TOI has seen the CCI notice given to the Delhi Vyapar Mahasangh for this.

CCI’s comments in HC come after Amazon asked why the US e-tailer wasn’t informed about this probe that was announced on January 13. CCI’s advocate said Amazon’s “entitlement” has no legal ground and it is trying to create confusion about the matter being a foreign direct investment (FDI) law violation. “The CCI is not questioning the source of money or the holding structure, it is probing what happens after the money comes to India and whether that’s anti-competitive,” the advocate said.

After the arguments by lawyers of both CCI and Delhi Vyapar Mahasangh, Flipkart’s lawyer will make a case on the matter on Friday along with a legal representative of the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT).

TOI had reported in its February 13 edition that Flipkart has been made a respondent to the petition, which was confirmed by the Walmart-owned Indian e-tailer. To be sure, Flipkart hasn’t made its stance on the matter official yet, but it will face a probe too if Amazon does not get an interim stay in the matter.

CCI’s legal representative also said the e-commerce study released by the regulator cannot be applied to this case as facts differ. CCI’s order to probe Amazon came days before Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos landed in India for a visit last month, where he announced a fresh $1-billion investment. Right after Bezos’s announcement, commerce and industry minister Piyush Goyal kicked up a row saying Amazon wasn’t “doing any favour” to India by investing as it was to cover up losses, even questioning how a marketplace could lose so much money.

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