Amazon Takes Enforcement Directorate To Court
The petition by two Amazon subsidiaries accuse the ED of conducting a "fishing and roving investigation".
Two companies from the Amazon Group have approached the Delhi High Court requesting it to bar the Enforcement Directorate from seeking information about the 2019 transaction between Amazon.com NV Investment Holdings LLC and the Future Group.
The group companies—Amazon Wholesale (India) Pvt. and Amazon Seller Services Pvt.—are wholly owned indirect subsidiaries of Amazon.com Inc., a U.S.-headquartered company. The two have filed a petition in the Delhi High Court challenging the actions of the investigative agency.
For the last seven years, they've stated in the petition, the Bangalore Regional Office of ED has been investigating inward remittances and monies received by Amazon Seller Services from its foreign shareholders. Now, the Head Investigation Unit of ED has issued a fresh directive. This one is pertaining to the Amazon-Future Group transaction, which has nothing to do with the two group companies in India, the petition says.
The ED is conducting a fishing and roving investigation and subjecting the two group companies to proceedings without any jurisdiction and thereby causing unnecessary harassment, the two group companies have alleged.
Their petition says that the Delhi office of the agency sought information about the Future Group transaction in February this year which included:
Details of Amazon.com NV’s investment in Future Coupons Pvt.
Copy of the agreements executed with the Future Group companies.
Basis of investment made in Future Group and the rationale for arriving at the price for shares of FCPL.
Copy of communications with promoters of Future Group, including copy of emails.
The petitioners have told the high court that they have no dealings with the Future Group controlled by Kishore Biyani. It's their overseas affiliate — Amazon.com NV Investment Holdings LLC — who had dealings with the Future Group.
Amazon.com NV Investment Holdings and Future Group are now engaged in a maze of legal battles at multiple courts in relation to the U.S. e-commerce major's investment in FCPL, a Future Group entity.
In their petition, the two companies have argued that the information sought by the head investigation office of the ED also includes legally privileged information such as opinions given by lawyers as well as details of past employees in the legal department.
The opinions and legal advice/strategy obtained by Indian entities of Amazon are covered by attorney-client privilege as well as litigation privilege.Petition By Amazon Group Companies
Similarly, the petition argues, details of people who've left the legal team of the two entities have no relation to the Future Group transaction.
The companies in their petition have requested the high court to direct the agency to withdraw the directive issued by the head investigation office of the agency as well as bar it from looking into matters covered by legal privilege or falling outside the purview of the Foreign Exchange Management Act.
The petition by Amazon was listed for hearing before the bench of Justice Rekha Palli but was not taken up. The next date of hearing is not known yet.