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Amazon moves Delhi HC against ED to thwart probe into Future deal

Amazon moves Delhi HC against ED to thwart probe into Future deal

New Delhi: Online retail giant Inc is reported to have approached the Delhi High Court to thwart an investigation into its deal with Future Group.

The ED has been after Amazon for months to find a suspected violation of foreign investment laws in its $200 million investment in Future Group after the latter had contracted to sell its retail assets to Reliance Retail.

Amazon is said to have used the terms to freeze the $3.4 billion sale of Future Group's retail assets to Reliance Retail. Amazon alleged discrepancies in the ED's investigation which said that the investigating officers have had all other information but not the details about the deal with Future Group from their senior executives who had been summoned in recent times.

Filing a case against the ED, Amazon is reported to have mentioned in its complaint that the ED's insistence for the disclosure of legally privileged documents and litigation privileged information is violative of the principles laid out in the Indian constitution.

In August 2019, Amazon had agreed to purchase 49 per cent of one of Future's unlisted firms, Future Coupons Ltd (which owns 7.3 per cent equity in BSE-listed Future Retail through convertible warrants), with the right to buy into the flagship Future Retail after a period of three to 10 years.

After Future's deal with RRVL, Amazon had dragged Future into arbitration at the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC). In October, an interim award was passed by the Emergency Arbitrator (EA) in favour of the US-based e-commerce major that barred Future Retail from taking any step to dispose of or encumber its assets or issuing any securities to secure any funding from a restricted party.

Amazon and Future have also filed litigations in Indian courts, including the Supreme Court, on the issue. The apex court had recently ruled in favour of Amazon by holding that the EA award was valid and enforceable under Indian laws.

The filing is the latest twist in the long-running dispute between Amazon and Future. Though the Competition Commission of India suspended their 2019 deal last week, saying Amazon had suppressed information when seeking approvals for it, the ED's probe is independent of that.

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