A former Amazon employee has pleaded guilty to involvement in a bribery scheme that helped some sellers on Amazon’s Marketplace platform for third-party merchants boost their sales and attack competitors.
Rohit Kadimisetty, who after leaving Amazon in 2015 launched a consulting firm for third-party sellers, admitted Wednesday that he conspired to commit bribery across state and national borders. Federal attorneys are recommending that Kadimisetty be sentenced to up to five years in prison and pay a fine of up to $50,000, less than the maximum recommended fine of $250,000.
In his plea agreement filed in U.S. District Court in Seattle, Kadimisetty said he bribed former Amazon colleagues in exchange for confidential information about sellers on the platform. The information gave Kadimisetty’s clients an “unfair competitive advantage on the Amazon Marketplace,” according to the plea agreement.
Kadimisetty also admitted to paying Amazon employees to disable other sellers’ product listings to route shoppers to the listings of Kadimisetty’s clients. And he acted as a go-between to help other Marketplace consultants, some of whom were indicted as his co-defendants, to arrange similar services on behalf of their clients, according to the plea agreement.
The U.S. Attorney estimated last year that the monetary toll of the fraud ring was in excess of $100 million, a sum that includes the proceeds of merchants who benefited from the conspiracy, lost sales on the part of their competitors and costs to Amazon.
Amazon “has systems in place to detect suspicious behavior by sellers or employees, and teams in place to investigate and stop prohibited activity,” said spokesperson Craig Andrews in a statement. “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.”
No current Amazon employees have been indicted as part of the investigation.
This article has been updated with a statement from Amazon.
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