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Amazon Bribery Row: CAIT Sent Memorandum To US Securities And Exchange Commission

The trade body has sent a similar memorandum to David Last, who is Chief of Fraud section of FCPA, and Charles Cain who is Chief of FCPA unit in Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

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Amid the bribery allegations against e-commerce giant Amazon, the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT), on Thursday, sent a memorandum to Gary Gensler, Chairman of the United States Securities and Exchange Commission, a regulatory body of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) federal law of USA. 

The trade body has sent a similar memorandum to David Last, who is Chief of Fraud section of FCPA, and Charles Cain who is Chief of FCPA unit in Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

In the memorandum Praveen Khandelwal, the National Secretary General of CAIT said, "We would like to request your kind attention to be directed towards the news that broke regarding the alleged bribing of government officials in India by Amazon Inc. This news story was first reported by a reputed and reliable news agency and was titled ‘Amazon whistleblower alleges India lawyers bribed officials’ on 20th September 2021. Through the details mentioned in the news story, we are of the opinion that a grave violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act has taken place and such an action must be immediately investigated."

He cited several examples where the same incidents of bribery of foreign officials have been witnessed in India and in Africa as well.

"We understand that there have been similar situations in the past wherein joint ventures/enterprises which used the resources of their lawyer and other agents to bribe government officials in African countries were penalized under FCPA. Further, payment of bribes by a third party (in this case, allegedly a lawyer) on behalf of the enterprise (Amazon) does not absolve Amazon from civil or criminal liabilities mentioned under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act," Khandelwal said in the memorandum.

He also said that as per our understanding of the FCPA, we understand that it has an extraterritorial jurisdiction and it is unlawful for any enterprise authorizes the bribing of foreign government officials to obtain or retain business even outside the USA i.e. there is an embargo to make corrupt payments. We would like to make a representation that this alleged conduct of Amazon warrants an immediate inquiry from the US Securities and Exchange Commission and the Department of Justice to conduct an independent and fair inquiry. 

"In terms of the precedents set by the SEC, we would also like to bring forth the case of Beam Suntory Inc. which uses third-party distributors to make illicit payment to government officials in India, Embraer which paid money to its agent and falsified its accounting records in India and Pride International Inc. which bribed judicial officers to influence customs litigation in India. These cases show that the SEC has taken a proactive approach towards MNCs who have tried to misappropriate funds and violate the provisions of the FCPA. We would like to request a similar level of a thorough investigation to be taken up against the alleged malpractices of paying bribes through legal advisors and consultants by Amazon Inc. in India," he added.