Amazon may be the largest online retailer in the world, but that did not exempt its offices in Japan from getting raided by antitrust regulators, Nikkei reports.
In the past few days, Japan’s Fair Trade Commission conducted an on-site inspection of Amazon Japan, with the federal agency catching a whiff of unfair practices. More specifically, the FTC suspects that Amazon’s Japanese arm forced retailers to set their prices lower in order to give it a competitive edge over others.
Under Japan’s anti-monopoly act, companies are forbidden to unfairly restrict activities of those with whom they have business relationships.
Talking to The Wall Street Journal, Japanese lawyer Nobuyoshi Suzuki believes that the FTC might send Amazon Japan a cease-and-desist order, which might force Amazon to either appeal the order in court or comply and change its business operations. However, the FTC might simply issue a warning, though affected businesses might takes things several steps forward and sue Amazon for “compensatory damages.”
An FTC spokesperson confirmed the inspection to The Wall Street Journal but did not say when it took place. An Amazon Japan spokesperson declined to issue a comment to the outlet, with Digital Trends reaching out to Amazon for comment.
This is not the first time Amazon found itself in hot water over monopoly accusations. In June 2015, the European Commission launched a formal investigation that looked into the retailer’s ebook contracts with publishers. Those contracts include clauses that required publishers to inform Amazon whenever competitors are offered a better deal.
Amazon defended itself at the time, arguing it wanted to offer publishers similar terms to those offered by competitors, but the European Commission wanted to make sure those terms did not “hinder the level playing field and potentially decrease competition between different ebook competitors to the detriment of consumers.”