U.S. lawmakers asked the Justice Department to investigate allegations of “potentially criminal conduct” by some Amazon (AMZN) – Get Amazon.com, Inc. Report executives Wednesday linked to its probe into digital market competition.
The U.S. House Judiciary Committee made the referral in a letter to to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland after accusing Amazon of holding back information to the Committee’s investigation into alleged anticompetitive practices by Amazon and its treatment of ‘outside sellers’ on the online retailers main platform.
Italy’s antitrust watchdog fined Amazon 1.13 billion euros ($1.3 billion) last December for what it called the ‘exploitation” of its dominant market position against independent sellers by forcing them to use Amazon’s logistics services, Fulfilment by Amazon, in order to move products on the website.
Authorities were also troubled by Amazon’s decision to prevent third-party sellers from accessing the Amazon Prime loyalty program, which they said makes it easier to sell higher-paying customers.
Amazon said at the time that the fines were “unjust and disproportionate”.
Amazon raised the price of its Prime membership from $12.99 to $14.99, with the annual charges rising 16.8% to $139, owing to what it called “the continued expansion of Prime-member benefits … as well as the rise in wages and transportation costs.”
Amazon shares were marked 2.06% higher in pre-market trading Wednesday to indicate an opening bell price of $2,776.30 each.
Amazon’s net income nearly doubled from last year to $14.3 billion over the three months ending in December, thanks in large part to an $11.8 billion boost from Amazon’s stake in EV maker Rivian Automotive (RIVN) – Get Rivian Automotive, Inc. Class A Report.
Sales were up 9% to a record $137.5 billion, while revenues at Amazon Web Services soared 40% to a record $17.8 billion.
Operating expenses were up 13% at $133.95 million, Amazon said, linked largely to labor and shipping cost increases.
Looking into the current quarter, Amazon said it sees operating income of between $3 billion to $6 billion on revenues in the range of $112 billion to $117 billion, compared to the Refinitiv forecast of $120 billion.