New Delhi: US e-commerce major Amazon has filed a petition in Delhi High Court seeking to quash an investigation by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) into one of its 2019 deals, according to a report by Reuters.
Amazon in its petition in the high court on December 21 has highlighted that the probing agency is summoning several executives of the company that amounts to ‘unnecessarily harassment’.
The ED has for months been investigating Amazon’s $200-million investment in Future Group for suspected violations of Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA). The investment is at the centre of protracted legal battles, as Amazon has used the terms of that deal, and cited contract breaches by Future, to stall the $3.4 billion sale of the Future’s retail assets to a rival.
According to Reuters, in an 816-page filing, Amazon calls the investigation a ‘fishing and roving’ inquiry, saying the ED had sought privileged legal advice and opinions from Amazon and other information not connected to the Future Group deal.
The Jeff Bezos-led firm said in the filing, “The directions by the ED asking for disclosure of legally privileged documents and litigation privilege information is derogatory of the principles laid out in Indian constitution. The investigation is a fishing and roving exercise.”
Both, Amazon and the ED, did not immediately respond to requests for comment. The filing is the latest twist in the long-running dispute between Amazon and Future.
The dispute centres around three commercial agreements signed between Future and Amazon entities, which a Singapore arbitration panel, also hearing the dispute, has said must be read together when reviewing the transaction.
The Competition Commission of India (CCI) last week had revoked its approval to Amazon’s 2019 deals with Future Coupons, saying Amazon had suppressed information when seeking approvals for it, the ED’s probe is independent of that. The competition watchdog has also imposed Rs 200-crore penalty on Amazon.
The CCI, in a 57-page order, said it considers “it necessary to examine the combination (deal) afresh,” adding its approval from 2019 “shall remain in abeyance” until then.
This verdict of the CCI paved the way for Reliance to acquire retail assets of Future Group.
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