New Delhi: The central government officials today said that a probe will be initiated into the alleged Amazon bribery charge, NDTV reported. The development comes on the back of a whistleblower complaint alleging that certain monies paid by Amazon in legal fees have been funnelled into bribes by one or more of its legal representatives in India.
Affirming the government’s “zero-tolerance” policy towards corruption, the government officials on Tuesday said the time or place of the alleged action has not been mentioned, the NDTV report says.
- Two people, who work closely with Amazon’s in-house legal team, confirmed that senior corporate counsel at Amazon Rahul Sundaram, has been sent on leave, IANS reported quoting The Morning Context.
- An Amazon spokesperson said: “We have zero tolerance for corruption. We take allegations of improper actions seriously, investigate them fully, and take appropriate action. We are not commenting on specific allegations or the status of any investigation at this time,” IANS reported.
- Earlier this year, a whistleblower inside Amazon flagged issues of bribery in the Indian operations, which resulted in the internal investigation, IANS reported.
- The whistleblower’s complaint points to the role played by Vikas Chopra, an independent advocate in New Delhi who works with Amazon as an outside counsel for hire. The complaint specifically alleges that legal fees paid to Chopra by Amazon have been funnelled into bribing government officials. An email with a list of questions sent to Chopra did not elicit any reply, as per the IANS report.
- Two people with direct knowledge of the matter confirmed that Chopra has represented Amazon on legal matters for around three years. For instance, in 2018, Chopra and Rahul Sundaram the in- house senior counsel who has been sent on leave represented Amazon’s logistics business, Amazon Transportation Services Pvt. Ltd, in a matter pertaining to the employment of Scheduled Tribes with the company in Gujarat, IANS reported.
- The internal investigation being carried out by the company is focusing on the role played by Chopra and Sundaram. The two people cited earlier said that Amazon is one of Chopra’s largest clients, with yearly billings of upwards of Rs 20 crore. Amazon’s investigation spans the many years of the relationship between the company and Chopra, the IANS report said.