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Amazon spends Rs 8,546 crore in legal expenses during 2018-20 to maintain presence in India

US e-commerce giant Amazon, which is said to be investigating alleged bribes paid by its legal representatives in India, spent Rs 8,546 crore or USD 1.2 billion in legal and professional expenses during 2018-20 in the country, sources said.

Sources aware of the firm's public account filings said entities of Amazon – including Amazon Retail India Pvt Ltd, Amazon Seller Services Pvt Ltd, Amazon Transportation Services Pvt Ltd, Amazon Wholesale (India) Pvt Ltd, and Amazon Internet Services Pvt Ltd (AWS) – paid Rs 3,420 crore in India during 2018-19 and Rs 5,126 crore during 2019-20 towards legal fees.

While initially Amazon had declined to comment on PTI's query on the matter, later in the evening, an Amazon spokesperson said a line item from its statutory filings on legal fees has been misrepresented.

The line item is "actually termed legal and professional expenses that includes not just the legal costs but also the costs related to other professional services such as outsourcing, tax consultants, customer research, logistic support services, merchant onboarding services, customer service cost, etc”, the spokesperson said.

"For instance, for the year ended March 31,2020, the legal fee was Rs 52 crore, from the total legal and professional expenses of Rs 1,967 crore," the spokesperson added.

On Monday, a report by Morning Context stated that Amazon has initiated an investigation against some of its legal representatives for allegedly bribing Indian government officials. Its senior corporate counsel has reportedly been sent on leave in this matter.

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