PARIS – The French government has decided to take internet commerce giant Amazon to court for allegedly abusing its dominant position to the detriment of some of its French suppliers, a statement said on Monday.
French Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire took the action after France’s Directorate General for Competition, Consumer Affairs and Fraud Control (DGCCRF) conducted a major survey of the commercial methods conducted by e-commerce platforms.
“The worst commercial practices that we found related to the Amazon group,” a ministry statement said. “Our regulators have for example revealed that in contracts signed with their commercial partners they included clauses that allowed them to unilaterally modify their commercial positions.”
According to the statement, the government will take Amazon to a Paris commerce court and demand a record 10 million euro ($11.8 million) fine.
After a two-year probe, the DGCCRF concluded the Amazon group had imposed a structural imbalance that included unilateral terminations of commercial relations that amounted to an abuse of a dominant market position.
The DGCCRF had previously ruled that two major French e-commerce platforms, Cdiscount and Rue du Commerce, should remove tariff-fixing clauses, a ruling they both complied with.
Amazon has business partnerships with some 10,000 French companies.
However, the United States e-commerce giant refused to change its partnership guidelines despite warnings by the consumer fraud watchdog.
The head of the DGCCRF, Loic Tanguy, speaking to French media, said Amazon “imposes an unfair, unbalanced, business relationship with its sales partners” that in some cases had driven them to bankruptcy.
Amazon has a policy of not commenting on legal procedures.
Amazon’s overall net revenue during 2017’s first three quarters (Q1-Q3) was 98.8 billion euros ($116.5 billion).