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Amazon's wholesale business targeted in expanded antitrust suit

The attorney general of Washington, DC, is adding to a lawsuit he filed in May.

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An antitrust lawsuit against Amazon is growing.

Ben Fox Rubin/CNET

The attorney general for Washington, DC, has expanded an antitrust lawsuit against Amazon to allege that the e-commerce giant locks wholesalers into anti-competitive agreements. AG Karl Racine's initial suit, filed in May, broadly accused Amazon of having too much control over the amount outside vendors can charge for their products.

The updated lawsuit, reported earlier Monday by The Washington Post, says Amazon illegally demanded that its wholesalers guarantee that Amazon will make a certain amount of money when it resells their products as its own. Otherwise, the suit alleges, they must compensate Amazon for profits it loses. Wholesalers then raise their prices when selling to Amazon's competition, giving the company another advantage, Racine alleges.

"As we further investigated Amazon's anti-competitive practices that harm consumers and further entrench Amazon's monopoly, we learned it was also engaging in anti-competitive agreements with first party sellers, or wholesalers -- in addition to third-party sellers," Racine said in a statement emailed to CNET. "I filed this antitrust lawsuit to stand up for consumers, hold Amazon accountable for its anti-competitive practices, and protect competition. We're continuing to do just that with this amended complaint that adds more of Amazon's misconduct."

Amazon, which filed a motion to dismiss Racine's original complaint, declined to comment on the updated suit and pointed to its previous statement.

"Amazon takes pride in the fact that we offer low prices across the broadest selection, and like any store we reserve the right not to highlight offers to customers that are not priced competitively," the company previously said. "The relief the AG seeks would force Amazon to feature higher prices to customers, oddly going against core objectives of antitrust law."