Amazon, the world’s largest e-commerce company, has opened an investigation into its legal representatives for paying bribes to Indian official officials. Rahul Sundaram, the company’s senior Corporate Counsel at Amazon, was reportedly removed from the company in this case.
The story was first published via The Morning Context, quoting anonymous sources and Amazon’s internal legal team. The newspaper had also contacted Sundaram to discuss the matter, and he replied, “Sorry I cannot speak with the press.”
A spokesperson for Amazon has also commented. Amazon spokesperson has told Business Insider, “We have no acceptance of corruption. We take any allegations of illegal actions seriously, thoroughly investigate them and take the appropriate actions. We cannot comment on particular allegations, nor the progress of an investigation at the moment.”
The news comes after a whistleblower reported that Amazon’s legal representatives used money given to them by Amazon to pay bribes to Indian officials.
An individual aware of the developments subject to anonymity informed The Morning Context that American companies such as Amazon are taking whistleblower complaints seriously, as they are contrary to The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, or FCPA.
In the United States, the FCPA statute in US is a law that prohibits both individuals and companies from giving bribes or bribes abroad to government officials to keep or gain business. This is also a component of the corporate governance rules that apply to all public companies located in the US.
The complaint by the whistleblower also mentions an advocate who is independently located in New Delhi, who works for Amazon as an outside counsel on hire. The complaint states that the lawyer in question was responsible for funnelling the money from Amazon to pay bribes to Indian government officials. According to The Morning Context’s source, Amazon was among the most prominent clients of the lawyer, who had an annual fee of 20 crore rupees.
It is a common practice that businesses of this size and size hire legal firms based on a retainer to investigate legal issues. The situation in India, Amazon works with a few law firms, including AZB and Partners. AZB and Partners also let go of one of its junior counsels in this respect by the Morning Context’s source.
Business Insider couldn’t independently confirm this assertion.
Business Insider has contacted AZB and Partners to seek clarification on this matter.
Amazon is not even on the good side by the Indian government for the past couple of years. Now we’ll have to observe the central government’s response to these complaints as it tightens its grip on Amazon, the online retailer.
Numerous media reports and complaints against Amazon have accused the company of business fraud or un-competitive conduct and tiptoeing over the rules. Its government in India has been aware of these claims. It has introduced the most recent e-commerce policies to provide a structure for businesses like Amazon and Walmart, Flipkart and others.
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