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Amazon appeals Indian high court to kill antitrust probe, insisting it would cause ‘irreparable’ losses

E-commerce giant Amazon has moved to quash an antitrust investigation in India launched at the behest of local merchants, arguing the probe would do irreversible damage to the company and its reputation.

Responding to an investigation opened by India’s Competition Commission (CCI) in January over allegations the company – as well as Walmart-owned Flipkart, one of its main rivals – violated competition laws, Amazon said the probe was “bereft of foundation” and would cause “irreparable” losses in a court filing on Monday.

“(The investigation order) suffers from non-application of mind as it appears to contain no reference to the finding of an appreciable adverse effect on competition,” the filing said, as cited by Reuters.

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The antitrust inquiry was kicked off last month over mounting complaints from a group of brick-and-mortar merchants, the Delhi Trade Federation, who say both Amazon and Flipkart have engaged in “predatory” trade practices, namely preferential treatment given to select sellers to the detriment of smaller businesses.

While the Competition Commission said there was a “prima facie case” that required investigation, both companies have denied the allegations, with Flipkart stating it was “fully compliant” with Indian law soon after the probe was ordered. Amazon at the time said it was “confident” it would be cleared of any wrongdoing and would “welcome” a chance to address the accusations.

Making a visit to the country just days after the probe was launched on January 13, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos prompted a wave of protests from Indian merchants during his stay, with one merchant organization – the Confederation of All India Traders – calling on its members to stage strikes and sit-ins, and even requesting a meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi to address what it deemed “economic terrorism” from the big box retailers.

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Though Bezos vowed $1 billion in investments in India, and to facilitate some $10 billion in exports from the country in the next five years, India’s Minister of Commerce and Industry Piyush Goyal was not impressed, warning that Amazon must follow the “letter and spirit” of Indian law.

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