Amazon Moves Delhi HC to Seek Relief from ED Probe

The US ecommerce giant Amazon approached the Delhi High Court on Wednesday seeking relief from an ongoing Enforcement Directorate (ED) investigation charging the agency of conducting the probe relating to Amazon’s 2019 investment into a Future Group firm in a manner that is “beyond that scope and power” under India’s foreign exchange laws.

In a petition field on Wednesday, Amazon pleaded for an ad-interim order stay on ED’s probe and summons pertaining to an inquiry that the agency initiated last month to find if Amazon had violated India’s FEMA rules while investing into Future Coupons (FCPL), a promotor company of Future Group.

Amazon has alleged that ED has sought accounts of privileged legal opinion given to it by lawyers and law firms in India. Amazon also alleged the agency asked it to furnish a list of its former employees in its legal team and provide accounts of banks details and legal expenses incurred by the Seattle based gain in India in the last ten years.

Amazon accused ED of conducting a ‘fish and roving enquiry” against it and said such request are beyond the agency’s jurisdiction.

Amazon did not respond to an email seeking comment on Wednesday’s petition.

The 2019 investment by Amazon into FCPL triggered more than two dozen legal cases between Amazon and Future Group in the Delhi High Court and Supreme Court and in tribunals including the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) and the Singapore International Arbitration Centre.

The dispute effectively scuppered a deal to sell Future Group’s assets to Reliance Retail for Rs. 25,000 crores more than a year. Amazon said its investment agreements in 2019 into FCPL – that owns 10% of the listed Future Retail (FRL) – bar FRL from selling any asset to several companies including Reliance.

Last week, the Competition Commission of India (CCI) put into “abeyance” its 2019 approval given to Amazon’s investment into FCPL and imposed a Rs.200 crore fine on the US ecommerce giant, holding that it had not disclosed its interest in the Indian retailer when it sought clearance for the deal and had misled the antitrust body.

The CCI also directed Amazon to refile within 60 days a new and detailed version of the application for its FCPL investment. Amazon last week had said it is reviewing the CCI order before deciding on its next course of action. S-ET

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