Amazon spends Rs 8,546 cr in legal and professional expenses during 2018-20 in India
US e-commerce giant Amazon, which is said to be investigating alleged bribes paid by its legal representatives in India, spent Rs 8,546 crore or USD 1.2 billion in legal and professional expenses during 2018-20 in the country, sources said.
Sources aware of the firm's public account filings said entities of Amazon – including Amazon Retail India Pvt Ltd, Amazon Seller Services Pvt Ltd, Amazon Transportation Services Pvt Ltd, Amazon Wholesale (India) Pvt Ltd, and Amazon Internet Services Pvt Ltd (AWS) – paid Rs 3,420 crore in India during 2018-19 and Rs 5,126 crore during 2019-20 towards legal fees.
While initially, Amazon had declined to comment on PTI's query on the matter, later in the evening, an Amazon spokesperson said a line item from its statutory filings on legal fees has been misrepresented. The line item is ''actually termed legal and professional expenses that include not just the legal costs but also the costs related to other professional services such as outsourcing, tax consultants, customer research, logistic support services, merchant onboarding services, customer service cost, etc'', the spokesperson said.
''For instance, for the year ended March 31, 2020, the legal fee was Rs 52 crore, from the total legal and professional expenses of Rs 1,967 crore,'' the spokesperson added.
On Monday, a report by Morning Context stated that Amazon has initiated an investigation against some of its legal representatives for allegedly bribing Indian government officials. Its senior corporate counsel has reportedly been sent on leave in this matter.
The company had stated that it takes allegations of improper actions seriously and investigates them fully to take appropriate action. While it did not confirm or deny the allegations, Amazon had said it has ''zero tolerance for corruption''.
Amazon also faces a probe by India's fair trade watchdog CCI for alleged anti-competitive practices, predatory pricing and preferential treatment of sellers.
The US-based firm has also locked in a legal tussle with Future Group. Amazon is contesting a Rs 24,713-crore deal between Future Group and Reliance Retail Ventures Ltd and has dragged Future Group to the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC). It has argued that Future violated the contract by entering into the deal with rival Reliance.
Amazon is an investor in Future Coupons, that in turn is a shareholder in Future Retail Ltd.
Traders' body CAIT said the ''whopping amount'' spent under legal and professional fees ''clearly shows how Amazon and its subsidiaries are misusing their financial muscles to bribe and manipulate Indian government officials''.
(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)