Amazon could be facing antitrust charges by the European Union (EU) as early as next week over its treatment of third-party sellers, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday (June 11).
The European Commission, the 27-nation bloc’s antitrust regulator, has been building its case against the eCommerce giant and circulating a draft of the charges for several months, sources told the newspaper.
It’s the latest action in a nearly two-year probe into Amazon’s alleged mistreatment of sellers on its eCommerce platform.
The EU charges Amazon with gathering data from third party sellers and using it to compete against them by launching similar products, known as private label brands.
In the past, Amazon has denied the allegations that it abuses its power and said its retailers routinely sell Amazon brands.
In April, US lawmakers raised concerns over accusations that Amazon abuses its position to produce similar products that its sellers offer and then compete against the sellers who offer their own products on the website.
Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri sent a letter on April 28 asking the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to open a criminal probe. In the House, U.S. Rep David Cicilline, a Rhode Island Democrat and chairman of the House Antitrust Subcommittee, said Amazon may have lied to Congress in testimony about its business practices regarding the third-party sellers.
Former Amazon workers have revealed the company asked an Amazon business analyst to craft reports using what is supposed to be restricted information or using taken from one seller.
The EU is investigating similar claims, the WSJ reported. An amazon executive told Congress the company does not use individual seller data to compete with other businesses on the platform.
Amazon has said it launched an internal investigation. Any employees who use data to help create private label products is in violation of the company’s policies, it said.
Margrethe Vestager, the European Commission’s vice president in charge of competition and digital policy, has fined Google more than $9 billion for anticompetitive behavior in three separate probes, the Journal reported.