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The latest twist in the Future Group saga, Amazon has sued ED

Amazon called the investigation a "fishing and roving" investigation in an 816-page file reviewed by Reuters

The latest twist in the Future Group saga, Amazon has sued ED

According to a court file seen by Reuters, Inc is suing India's financial crime fighting agency to stop an inquiry into one of its 2019 transactions.

For months, India's Enforcement Directorate (ED) has been investigating Amazon's $200 million investment in India's Future Group for possible foreign investment law violations.

The investment has been the subject of protracted court fights, with Amazon citing contract breaches by Future to halt the $3.4 billion sale of the Indian company's retail operations to a competitor.

Amazon called the investigation a "fishing and roving" investigation in an 816-page file reviewed by Reuters, claiming the ED sought confidential legal advice and views from Amazon as well as other information unrelated to the Future Group purchase.

The ED had summoned several Amazon executives, including its India CEO, in recent weeks, and the inquiry had resulted in "unnecessary harassment," the e-commerce giant said in a plea to the Delhi High Court on Dec. 21.

"The directions by the ED asking for disclosure of legally privileged documents and litigation privilege information is derogatory of the principles" laid out in Indian constitution, Amazon said in the filing, which is not public.

"The investigation is a fishing and roving exercise."

Amazon and the ED did not immediately respond to requests for comment. The ED does not make specifics of its investigations public. On Thursday, the matter will most likely be heard.

The lawsuit is the latest twist in Amazon and Future's long-running feud. Though India's antitrust body froze their 2019 deal last week, alleging that Amazon hid material when seeking approvals, the ED's investigation is unrelated to that.

The disagreement centres on three commercial agreements signed by Future and Amazon businesses, which a Singapore arbitration panel – which is also hearing the case – has stated must be read together when evaluating the purchase.

Future claims that combining the commercial agreements would make the deal illegal under Indian law.

A notification from the ED dated Feb. 19 was included in Amazon's court filing, asking for facts about its investment in Future, including copies of agreements, bank account information, and other related internal communication.

It also revealed that the ED is launching a much broader investigation, requesting information on large sellers on Amazon's Indian e-commerce website, including sales figures for those who account for more than 5% of total sales.

The notice was issued following a Reuters investigation in February, which discovered Amazon aided a limited number of vendors on its Indian platform by lowering their costs and allowing them to circumvent foreign investment restrictions.

Amazon stated at the time that it was confident in its compliance with regulations, "does not give preferential treatment to any seller on its marketplace."

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