Amazon’s Bezos, Jassy must testify in FTC investigation

CNN Business

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and CEO Andy Jassy must testify in an ongoing Federal Trade Commission investigation into whether the company misled people into subscribing to Amazon Prime and other services, the agency said Wednesday.

The decision follows earlier claims by Amazon ( AMZN ) that FTC employees harassed the two men and imposed undue burdens on them. Amazon (AMZN) had petitioned the agency’s top officials asking them to intervene.

But agency commissioners said Amazon had not met the legal threshold to quash the civil subpoenas issued to the two men.

“Amazon provides no reason why the Commission should accept anything less than all the relevant testimony it can obtain from these two witnesses,” FTC Commissioner Christine Wilson wrote in Wednesday’s order.

In a statement, Amazon said it was “disappointed but not surprised that the FTC largely declined to rule against itself, but we are pleased that the agency has supported its broadest requests and will allow witnesses to choose their own counsel.”

“Amazon has cooperated with the FTC throughout the investigation and has already produced tens of thousands of pages of documents,” the company said. “We are committed to engaging constructively with FTC staff, but we remain concerned that the latest requests are overly broad and unnecessarily burdensome, and we will explore all of our options.”

The demand that Amazon’s most powerful leaders testify before the FTC underscores the depth and breadth of the agency’s investigation, which covers a wide range of Amazon services.

It began in March 2021 as an investigation into Amazon Prime, and whether Amazon automatically enrolled consumers in the program without their consent. The probe has since expanded to include nearly half a dozen Amazon services, including Audible, Amazon Music, Kindle Unlimited and Subscribe & Save.

The expanded probe came after a Business Insider article reported that some within Amazon itself were concerned about whether the company’s customer acquisition and retention practices could be “deliberately confusing.”

Amazon has said that after providing thousands of documents related to the Prime investigation, the FTC’s request for further information is unreasonably broad. Compliance with the request would, among other things, require an interview with a large number of other employees to find the relevant information, it says.

Amazon also argued in its petition that Bezos and Jassy don’t have to testify because other officials would be more likely to have the kind of specific knowledge the FTC is seeking.