Indian agency summons Amazon, Future Group executives to join probe
Amazon India has been opposing Future Group’s attempts to sell its businesses to Reliance Retail. (Photo by MANJUNATH KIRAN/AFP via Getty Images)
INDIA’S top law enforcement and economic intelligence agency has summoned senior executives of Amazon India and Future Group for questioning in a foreign exchange violation probe, linked to a disputed deal between the two conglomerates.
Officials said on Sunday (28) that the Enforcement Directorate (ED) told the executives including Amazon India country head Amit Agarwal to join the investigation with documents under the provisions of the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA).
The investigation is being conducted after the federal agency received a communication from the commerce ministry early this year seeking “necessary action” against e-commerce players like Amazon and Flipkart over certain multi-brand retail businesses.
The Delhi High Court had said the attempt made by Amazon to control Future Retail through a conflation of agreements it has with an unlisted unit of the Indian company will be considered as violative of the FEMA and foreign direct investment (FDI) rules.
Sources said the agency has gathered details from the documents submitted by the companies earlier and other sources over the last few months.
An Amazon spokesperson said the company was examining the ED summons.
“We are in receipt of summons issued by the ED in connection with the Future Group. As we have just received the summons, we are examining it and will respond within the given time frame,” the spokesperson said in a statement.
However, Future Group did not respond to the queries over the development.
Amazon and Future Group have been battling it out in courts after the Kishore Biyani-led group in August last year agreed to sell its assets to billionaire Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Retail for Rs 245 billion (£2.4 bn).
Amazon is objecting to the sell-off plans, accusing Future Group of breaching its 2019 investment pact. It had approached the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) as well as Indian courts.
Earlier this month, a promoter entity of Future Retail Ltd (FRL) was asked by the ED to provide documents of the 2019 deal with Amazon. FRL had noted that it has not received any direction to provide any document.
Amazon has also written to the independent directors of FRL, alleging “significant financial irregularities”, and said this warrants a “thorough and independent examination” of facts and related party transactions between FRL and other Future Group entities.