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US lawmakers say Amazon executives may have lied to Congress

Amazon denies that its executives mislead lawmakers.

Claudia Cruz/CNET

Five members of the House Judiciary Committee sent a letter to Amazon CEO Andy Jassy on Sunday asking the company to back up previous testimony its executives have given about the retail giant's business practices. In the letter, the lawmakers allege Amazon executives, including founder Jeff Bezos, may have misled or lied to Congress. 

"At best, this reporting confirms that Amazon's representatives misled the Committee," reads the letter. "At worst, it demonstrates that they may have lied to Congress in possible violation of federal criminal law." 

The letter -- sent by Reps. Jerrold Nadler, David Cicilline, Ken Buck, Pramila Jayapal and Matt Gaetz -- points to reports from Reuters, The Wall Street Journal and The Markup related to Amazon's private brands and how the company handles data from third-party sellers. The reports allege Amazon uses data from third-party sellers to launch competing products and favors its own brands in search results. 

Amazon has previously denied these accusations. On Monday, the company said its executives didn't mislead Congress and pushed back on the reports about its business practices.

"Amazon and its executives did not mislead the committee, and we have denied and sought to correct the record on the inaccurate media articles in question," said an Amazon spokesperson in an emailed statement. "As we have previously stated, we have an internal policy, which goes beyond that of any other retailer's policy that we're aware of, that prohibits the use of individual seller data to develop Amazon private label products. We investigate any allegations that this policy may have been violated and take appropriate action."

The lawmakers said it was Amazon's final chance to provide "exculpatory evidence" to testimony and statements given by the company's executives. The letter also points to testimony given by Bezos in 2020, who was still CEO at the time, where he said Amazon "prohibits the use of anonymized data, if related to a single seller, when making decisions to launch private brand products."

The lawmakers asked Amazon to respond by Nov. 1.