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Congress seeks SC probe into Rs 8,546 crore bribe allegations, asks Narendra Modi to respond

Congress seeks SC probe into Rs 8,546 crore bribe allegations, asks Narendra Modi to respond, the vie

Surjewala pointed out that it has now come out that the e-commerce giant spent Rs 8,546 crore in ‘legal fees’, whereas India’s Law Ministry’s annual budget is only Rs 1,100 crore

, the vie

File image of Congress general secretary Randeep Singh Surjewala. PTI

The Congress on Wednesday demanded a Supreme Court-monitored probe into the alleged bribery case involving e-commerce firm Amazon and demanded a response from Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the issue of national security.

Congress general secretary Randeep Singh Surjewala, at a press conference, demanded that a probe be conducted under the supervision of the Supreme Court of India.

He also rejected suggestions of a CBI probe, saying, “How can CBI probe those who are its bosses? These issues are concerned with the country’s security and those involved in these issues are guilty of sedition and that is why the prime minister will have to answer the nation,” Surjewala claimed.

The prime minister left for the United States on an official visit this morning.

 

Surjewala pointed out that it has now come out that the e-commerce giant spent Rs 8,546 crore in “legal fees”, whereas India’s Law Ministry’s annual budget is only Rs 1,100 crore. Those involved in these cases are “traitors”, Surjewala alleged.

He then went on to voice questions regarding India’s governance in the matter and wondered aloud as to what the motivation could have been behind the bribes, calling it the ruling party’s “eat, feed and loot” model.

“The so-called alleged bribery of Rs 8,546 crore was being given to whom in the Modi government? Who received the money? Was this money given to annihilate the trade and business of crores of small shopkeepers, MSMEs and traders so that e-commerce company like Amazon could take away their businesses and livelihood?” he asked.

Surjewala also launched a scathing attack on the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the Mundra Port drug bust.

The Congress leader referred to a report about Amazon investigating alleged bribes paid by its legal representatives in India during 2018-20.

Amid reports of Amazon probing bribery-related charges against some of its legal representatives in India, the US e-commerce giant has said it takes allegations of improper actions seriously and investigates them fully to take appropriate action.

“Why is Prime Minister Narendra Modi silent? Will he demand the President of America to investigate the alleged bribery scam against the Amazon company? Shouldn’t this so called bribery scam in the country be investigated by a sitting judge of the Supreme Court?” he further questioned.

A report on 19 September by Morning Context said Amazon has initiated an investigation against some of its legal representatives for allegedly bribing Indian government officials. Without confirming or denying allegations, Amazon said it has “zero tolerance for corruption”.

According to a report by The Morning Context, 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.

When contacted, 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”.

A person aware of the development said US-headquartered companies such as Amazon take whistleblower complaints seriously, especially those related to payment of bribes to foreign government officials in order to retain or obtain business. This is also to ensure compliance with corporate governance rules.

Meanwhile, traders” body CAIT has demanded a CBI inquiry saying the matter relates to the credibility of the government and is counter to the vision of removing corruption at all levels within the government.

The Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) also demanded that names of officials involved in the matter be made public and exemplary action be taken against them.

CAIT, which has sent a communication to Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal, said it is also moving a representation to the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chairman Gary Gensler to demand a “fair and independent probe” into the issue.

CAIT National President BC Bhartia and Secretary General Praveen Khandelwal said it needs to be inquired whether the alleged bribery has “any connection with the ongoing investigation or related with continuous violation of the law and rules by Amazon”.

These steps are required to protect Indian e-commerce market and the retail trade from undue influence, abuse of dominance and connivance with government officials, which falls under Anti-Corruption Act, they added.

The development comes at a time when Amazon is facing a probe by fair trade watchdog, Competition Commission of India (CCI), for alleged anti-competitive practices, predatory pricing and preferential treatment of sellers.

Amazon is also locked in a legal tussle with Future Group. Amazon is contesting the 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 and Future Group had also filed litigations in Indian courts, including the Supreme Court, on the issue. Amazon is an investor in Future Coupons, that in turn is a shareholder in Future Retail Ltd.

With inputs from PTI

 

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