The Federal Commerce Fee has revamped its antitrust inquiry into Amazon.com, shaking up the investigative staff, re-interviewing potential witnesses and asking questions in regards to the firm’s current acquisition of MGM Studios, three folks accustomed to the investigation mentioned.
The company has been taking a look at Amazon since 2019 over antitrust considerations with its retail enterprise and cloud computing providers. Lina Khan, who grew to become chair of the company final 12 months, had made a reputation for herself with a groundbreaking authorized paper on Amazon’s potential antitrust violations and has taken a private curiosity within the investigation.
She has assigned the case to John Newman, an antitrust professor and former Justice Division prosecutor, who joined the FTC as a deputy director of competitors in December and has reorganized the staff investigating Amazon, in line with the folks, who requested to not be recognized discussing nonpublic details about the scenario.
The company declined to touch upon the reorganization. Amazon didn’t instantly reply to a request for remark.
Through the administration of President Trump, the FTC opted to prioritize an antitrust investigation into Fb and assigned solely two legal professionals to the Amazon one, two of the folks mentioned.
Earlier than becoming a member of the FTC from Columbia Legislation College, Khan labored as a staffer for the Home Judiciary antitrust subcommittee that had spent 16 months investigating Alphabet Inc.’s Google, Amazon, Apple Inc. and Meta Platforms Inc. Khan centered on the Google part of what ultimately grew to become the panel’s 449-page report, whereas an FTC staffer led the Amazon portion.
The report grew to become public in October 2020, however by final summer time the FTC investigation hadn’t damaged any new floor from what had been outlined within the report, two of the folks mentioned.
After taking up the company, Khan helped draft some strains of questioning for investigators, one of many folks mentioned. Since then, FTC legal professionals have homed in on elements of the investigation involving Amazon Internet Companies, the corporate’s profitable cloud computing enterprise, and extra just lately the $8.45-billion MGM acquisition.
Amazon mentioned in March that it closed its acquisition of the film studio when the FTC’s assessment of the deal expired and not using a problem.
The FTC declined to remark immediately on the deal on the time however issued an announcement that it “doesn’t approve transactions and should problem a deal at any time if it determines that it violates the legislation.”
FTC legal professionals have been asking questions in regards to the MGM deal’s impact on the corporate’s video streaming service, Amazon Prime, two of the folks mentioned.
Amazon has sought to sideline Khan, arguing that her previous work ought to preclude her from involvement in any FTC instances towards the corporate. An identical recusal push by Fb was rejected by the company and a federal choose overseeing the FTC’s lawsuit towards the corporate.
The FTC isn’t the one regulator centered on Amazon. In response to an antitrust price-fixing investigation by the Washington state legal professional basic, the corporate agreed to pay a $2.25-million high quality in January and shut a program through which it agreed on pricing with third-party sellers, somewhat than compete with them.
Karl Racine, the legal professional basic for the District of Columbia, sued Amazon final 12 months alleging the net retailer encourages higher-than-necessary client costs by way of insurance policies that assure the tech large a minimal revenue on every merchandise offered, whereas discouraging retailers on the positioning from providing their merchandise at decrease costs elsewhere.
A Superior Court docket choose dismissed the lawsuit in March, however Racine is interesting with help from the Biden administration. European regulators are additionally investigating how the e-commerce large treats sellers on its platform.