German watchdog launches new Amazon investigation

Germany’s anti-trust authority has launched a new investigation into Amazon’s relationship with third-party traders selling on its site, its head was quoted as saying on Sunday.

“We are currently investigating whether and how Amazon influences how traders set prices on the marketplace,” Andreas Mundt, President of the Federal Cartel Office, told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung daily.

Germany is Amazon’s second-biggest market after the United States.

During the first few months of the coronavirus pandemic, when many stores were closed and shoppers flocked online, Mundt said there had been complaints that Amazon had blocked some traders because of allegedly too high prices.

“Amazon must not be a controller of prices,” he said, adding that Amazon had responded to his office’s requests for information and those statements were now being evaluated.

Amazon could not immediately be reached for comment.

Up until 2013, Amazon had prevented traders from offering their products via other online sites at a lower price than on its market place, a policy Germany’s anti-trust watchdog forced it to abandon.

Last year, Amazon reached a deal with the German authority to overhaul its terms of service for third-party merchants, prompting the office to drop a previous seven-month investigation.

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