The Italian Competition Authority (ICA) has launched an investigation into five separate Amazon outfits to determine whether the company is taking advantage of its position as the foremost logistical and eCommerce service, according to a report from Reuters.
The companies being investigated are: Amazon Services Europe, Amazon Europe Core, Amazon EU, Amazon Italia Services and Amazon Italia Logistica.
The ICA claimed Amazon gave conditions to third-party sellers, such as offering specific benefits only if they signed up with Amazon.
“We are fully cooperating with the Authority,” Amazon told Reuters in an email.
The authority said it had begun inspections of Amazon companies in tandem with the tax police antitrust unit, and that the investigation would likely be completed by April of 2020.
This isn’t the first time Amazon has been linked with the word “antitrust.” In March, the eCommerce company, worried that it could run afoul of antitrust laws, said it would prevent third-party sellers from hawking products on other websites for a lower price.
According to a report in CNN at the time, Amazon confirmed the new policy kicked off, but declined to comment further. Senator Richard Blumenthal had reached out to the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) calling for an investigation into whether the eCommerce giant was violating antitrust rules with its “price parity” policy, which required merchants to match the Amazon price on all third-party websites.
In a letter to the DOJ and the FTC that Blumenthal penned in December, he said: “Amazon’s price parity provisions may raise prices for consumers both in the short term and in the long run.” The letter went on to say that “Amazon’s price parity provisions may work to block the emergence of more efficient online marketplaces that might offer consumers lower prices on their favorite goods.” Blumenthal told CNN he was glad Amazon made that decision, but remained “deeply troubled” that federal regulators failed to stay on top of anti-competitive practices that hurt American innovation and consumers.