The Japanese branch of Amazon has seen its offices raided by the country’s fair trade regulator, the company announced on Thursday morning.
It is believed that Japan’s Fair Trade Commission’s grounds for the raid were based on suspicions of anti-trust violations. The company is suspected of asking suppliers to shoulder the costs incurred from selling their products at a discount.
Osaka-based daily newspaper The Asahi Shimbun reported that Amazon Japan may have demanded their suppliers pay a ‘collaboration fee,’ measured as a percentage of the product’s selling price.
Amazon Japan told Reuters that it is fully cooperating with the Fair Trade Commission’s investigation. However, the firm would not elaborate or comment on the suspected violations as reported by The Asahi Shimbun and other local media reports.
The BBC contacted the Commission for more details on the case. but the organisation declined to comment.
This is not the first time that Amazon Japan has come to blows with the nation’s Fair Trade Commission.
Back in 2016, the company experienced a similar raid when suspicions arose that it had forced retailers to set prices on Amazon Japan at low or lower prices than those listed elsewhere online. That investigation ended in June 2017 when Amazon Japan agreed to stop the practice.
Amazon’s UK arm has also suffered its own set of controversies and investigations. Most recently in December 2017, Metro reported that the company’s delivery drivers are paid less than minimum wage as they have to pay for van hire and insurance. There have also been numerous reports of employees being overworked (including drivers working 12 hour shifts, despite UK law prohibiting drivers from working over 11 hours per day), and pay being so bad that workers camped outside in the winter to save the cost of commuting.
These controversies come as Amazon saw record profits of $1.9 billion in the fourth quarter of 2017 and CEO Jeff Bezos cemented his status as the world’s richest man with a value of $105bn (£73bn).