Amazon Top Seller Alleges Govt Officials Detained Employees During Raids

Amazon India's wholly-owned subsidiary CloudTail accuses CCI to illegally detain 3 of its employees during a raid.
Amazon India’s wholly-owned subsidiary CloudTail accuses CCI to illegally detain 3 of its employees in a raid.

The wholly-owned subsidiary of the US e-commerce giant’s Indian arm Amazon India, CloudTail has accused the Indian national competition regulating statutory body Competition Commission of India of illegally holding three of its employees in detention while conducting a raid.

While the antitrust agency (CCI) has denied any such allegations stating that it was not illegal (as charged) to be begin with, the developments of the case’s proceedings is likely to fuel the growing sourness in trade between India’s increasingly assertive authorities and international e-commerce players, like Amazon and the Walmart-owned Flipkart.

These two e-commerce entities, among others, have been brought under the statutory body CCI’s radar time and again by allegations of violating the regulator’s competition law, and preferring select sellers on their platforms over other small-time Indian retailers.

CloudTail Accuses CCI of Illegally Detaining 3 Employees

In a raid operation conducted by the Indian antitrust watchdog CCI on Apr 28 and 29, 2022, against some online sellers, including Amazon’s former top seller and now a wholly-owned subsidiary CloudTail, the seller has accused the watchdog of detaining its employees illegally.

“Three employees from the senior management were detained for over 30 hours through the night till the completion of the search & seizure operation”, it stated in a filing.

According to CloudTail, the watchdog detained its employees during a raid investigation of Amazon and Flipkart’s few online sellers over suspected preferential treatment on e-commerce platforms, and were cause for disallowing materials taken during the raid, noted a Reuters report.

However, a senior source at CCI clarified that there was nothing illegal in the process, rejecting CloudTail’s allegations, stating it had obtained the requisite legal approvals and was in line with the watchdog’s regulatory processes.

The Reuters report adds, “An initial hearing on Cloudtail’s filing at the Delhi High Court on June 3 did not mention the detentions, and the contents of the filing have not been posted publicly.”

Further, Cloudtail’s lawyers added that the company should have never been raided, given it is merely a third-party seller on Amazon, to which CCI’s lawyer argued that the company was simply trying to discourage authorities from proceeding with the probe.

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