Amazon has been embroiled in a bribery scandal which has now seen six individuals charged in connection to a scheme worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
Six defendants have been charged by the US Department of Justice for allegedly offering bribes of more than $100,000 to Amazon workers to gain “an unfair advantage” on the company’s third-party marketplace.
The group of former employees have been accused of offering bribes to at least 10 Amazon staff since 2017 in order to have accounts that were banned for selling illegal substances, dangerous goods and counterfeit items reinstated.
They also bribed employees to hand over valuable data on other rival third-party sellers, information about Amazon’s closely guarded algorithms and for access to benefits like selling products in restricted categories.
These individuals both sold items on Amazon themselves and served as consultants for other merchants, creating benefit which the DOJ says are worth more than $100 million.
“Amazon has systems in place to detect suspicious behaviour by sellers or employees, and teams in place to investigate and stop prohibited activity,” Amazon said in a statement.
“We are especially disappointed by the actions of this limited group of now-former employees, and appreciate the collaboration and support from law enforcement to bring them and the bad actors they were entwined with to justice.
“There is no place for fraud at Amazon and we will continue to pursue all measures to protect our store and hold bad actors accountable.”
This is the latest controversy to hit Amazon’s third-party marketplace, which now accounts for around 60 per cent of its total sales, with third part products account for 90 per cent of sales in key categories.
The retailer has struggled to effectively moderate the platform, which has grown rapidly over the past few years, leading many to criticise Amazon for allowing unsafe or fake items to be sold.