New Delhi: Amazon, the world's largest online retailer, has launched an internal investigation into the conduct of its legal representatives in India, reports The Morning Context.
This investigation stems from a whistleblower complaint alleging that money paid by Amazon for legal fees was diverted into bribes by one or more of its legal representatives.
Two people who work closely with Amazon's in-house legal team confirmed that Rahul Sundaram, senior corporate counsel at Amazon, has been sent on leave.
In response to a series of questions, an Amazon spokesperson stated: "We have zero tolerance for corruption. We take allegations of improper actions seriously, investigate them fully, and take appropriate action. We are not commenting on specific allegations or the status of any investigation at this time."
According to the report, most American companies take whistleblower complaints seriously because they violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act or FCPA. The FCPA is a US law that prohibits companies and individuals from paying bribes to foreign government officials in order to obtain or keep business. The FCPA is also part of the corporate governance rules that govern all public companies.
The whistleblower's complaint focuses on the role of Vikas Chopra, an independent advocate in New Delhi who works as an outside counsel for Amazon. The complaint specifically alleges that Amazon's legal fees paid to Chopra were used to bribe government officials. Chopra, however, did not respond to an email containing a list of questions.
The internal investigation being carried out by the company is focusing on the role played by Chopra and Sundaram. Amazon is one of Chopra's largest clients, with yearly billings of upwards of Rs 20 crore. According to the report, Amazon's investigation spans many years of the company's relationship with Chopra.
Amazon is conducting a broader investigation to determine the cause of the problem. The corporation has also questioned its other legal representatives in the country. Most multinational corporations use a slew of legal firms on retainer. Amazon collaborates with some of the largest firms in India, including AZB and Parkers.