"$100 million of competitive benefits to those accounts, harm to competitors, and harm to consumers."
At this point, there are "officials," with rubber stamps that are worth millions to a large number of businesses. Google, and facebook too. The difference between doing well or poorly on the ad marketplace, adwords, feeds, results, and such can be the difference between a business worth a fortune and one worth nothing.
It's similar in scale, incentive complexes and such to whatever public body approves real estate development plans. Friendly decision makers are worth a fortune. No details on who the culprits were, but it sounds like corruption near the ground level.... $100m. Different beast.
At this point, expect less criminally blatant forms of corruption to emerge. Hiring former facebook & adwords people as "consultants with contacts" is already a meaningful sized thing. Sound familiar?
This has been a thing for years.
I do hate it when that happens too.
The reason there are now 15 exchanges and not 1 is because the SEC structures the market to incentivize "on the merits" competition and discourage "destroy mode" competition.
In sports we don't tolerate players intentionally injuring the other side, so I'm not sure why we tolerate it in business.
You decrease monopoly problems in one sense, but now the "SEC" and it's quasi-subsidiary entities (NASDAQ, NYSE) have become their own sort of trust. You can even include LSX and other major worldwide markets. International trade deals have brought regulatory regimes close to each other in order to maintain liquidity between markets.
If you did this to the car industry, it would probably make cars worse. It's not obvious what a "worse car" means in the context of a stock exchange or ad marketplace, and dubious that "worse" means worse for us, so a regulator is not out of the question.
That said, I'd rather have fewer or no multi-trillion dollar trusts than a regulated trust.
Anyway, a social media regulator is problematic for other reasons.
IMO the EU & US should just find some courage and act on the findings of their own courts. The marketplaces in particular have already been found (in court) to be operating monopolistically. Split them off. Make adwords separate from Google. Amazon marketplace is trickier, because it is a "real stuff" business... but the same logic applies.
Things have loosened up quite a bit but the US is behind other countries in allowing advanced lighting technology on cars: https://www.autoblog.com/2018/03/13/why-we-cant-have-better-... "This is because it doesn't adhere to the inflexible and archaic 50-year-old Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) that require all vehicles to have headlights capable of only switching from high to low beams and not blend the two together, which also rules out MB's Digital Light tech."
Banks are networked and all speak SWIFT.
Stock exchanges are networked and all speak FIX.
Tier-1 ISPs are networked and all speak IP.
Why can't we make that happen for information infrastructure of a certain size and importance?
The question of America's apparent desire for official censorship is orthogonal to the question of monopoly. And even if it wasn't, people would be a lot more likely to get their preferred brand of censorship from whichever 1/7th Facebook they chose to use.
Mergers and Acquisitions have been responsible for the loss of countless services & products. Services & Products that were even profitable, and had a loyal and growing customer base, and a long road ahead of them.
Breadth is very valuable to and ad business. Targeting makes it moreso.
If you had 100% of facebook's business in Des Moines, IA, you would be raking in the cash. Good luck getting it.
This is the split (most valuable markets kept whole) that would be least detrimental to value, but also least beneficial in monopoly busting terms.
Woah. Was not expecting it to be that big.
> More specifically, the Indictment alleges that the defendants served as consultants to so-called third-party (“3P”) sellers on the Amazon Marketplace.
Most companies have their employees sign onboarding documents or do an annual "business conduct" policy review. Any thoughts on a better way to manage something like this at scale? On one hand, I have a bad taste in my mouth from past employment situations that dictate "we own every though that enters your mind 24/7" - but consulting regarding your current employer, yikes.
I guess ethics aren't boolean to some.
As for actual fixes, I think safety critical systems already have some answers: require 2 person confirmations, audit access, correlate repeated issues.
It’s just not as obvious to some people I suppose.
The 6 defendants weren't Amazon employees.
> In the course of the conspiracy described in the Indictment, the defendants paid bribes to at least ten different Amazon employees and contractors, including KUNJU, who accepted bribes as a seller-support associate in Hyderabad, India, before becoming an outside consultant who recruited and paid bribes to his former colleagues. In exchange for those bribes, the corrupted employees and contractors took the following illicit steps [...]
This has long been a major issue with Amazon - often the people making the decisions as to whether a business with dozens of employees gets to keep selling or goes bankrupt are being paid less than US minimum wage in another country.
Edit: On reading the full indictment, there is no mention of the national origin of any employees of Amazon. The 6 accused knew each other and were exchanging insider information from undisclosed Amazon employees with third party sellers in return for a fee. A couple of them were ex-Amazon employees who presumably used their insider knowledge to build confidence with the third party sellers, but I don't think they are being charged for using that knowledge.
Not sure how this would be prevented if Amazon did not have operations in India?
But does that mean all the bribes were given to employees in India? I wonder why they are not being charged? Perhaps because that part of the fraud happened within the Indian jurisdiction? Or are maybe they are waiting on Indian law enforcement to formally charge them.
It’s about a compliance function being placed in a country with poor law enforcement, low pay relative to the activity they’re monitoring and geographic/cultural separation from HQ. If you read about a bank whose traders are in New York and whose risk and compliance are in Tokyo, what would you think? And Tokyo has decent cops and high pay.
This is, fundamentally, about Amazon treating this function as a cost centre versus brand defence.
No issue with your general point, but Tokyo having decent pay is generally not true and cops being decent is debatable.
I mean, should we try to use euphemisms for China's control of chipmaking? Or the German emission cheating scandal?
Simply referencing a country or race doesn't make you racist. Interpreting it though...
When that extends to Chinese people or Germans that is racist.
So this style of casual racism / xenophobia is ok if directed at approved targets?
Pretty sure if it happened to be 6 African American individuals who were indicted it would not be acceptable to say "Don't outsource your work to low-level Black contractors".
>Please respond to the strongest plausible interpretation of what someone says, not a weaker one that's easier to criticize. Assume good faith.
Notice the word in italics? The US would still have jurisdiction.
GovCloud is also not allowed to be administered by Indians but is allowed to be run by Indian Americans. It can’t be run by people from Great Britain either.
It's not xenophobic to prefer US employees for sensitive positions of trust, where the rule of US law is relevant.
All in all, this is very embarrassing for Amazon.
Saying 'low-level Indian contractors' brings to mind a specific, at least somewhat xenophobic, image,and is very often used very casually.
One of the things that I like about HN over (say) Reddit is the guidelines for comments work pretty well. I’m particularly thinking of “Assume good faith.” - absent any other evidence, it’s better to assume that other posters are not racist assholes if you’re not sure if someone is talking about citizenship versus ethnicity.
Gächter, S. and Schulz, J.F., 2016. Intrinsic honesty and the prevalence of rule violations across societies. Nature, 531(7595), pp.496-499.
Hugh-Jones, D., 2016. Honesty, beliefs about honesty, and economic growth in 15 countries. Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, 127, pp.99-114.
NB: I'm the author of the latter.
This doesn't have to imply racism, there are numerous reasons why people might behave differently in different environments. Different culture, different institutional incentives, a different economic environment....
India regularly extradites people who have been indicted in USA.
Criminals have different value set nothing to do with nationality. We still have a article on the front page about an American CEO embezzing funds. You will not hear anyone saying be careful of American CEOs.
I thought that "Indian call center" means that it's in India.
So I'm assuming you're saying that they shouldn't hire in India apparently because of less than minimum wage. So these kinds of things can be avoided if Amazon were to hire decision makers who make minimum wage or whatever the lowest amount they can get away with in US?
As you know, the sellers and buyers are global. So should Amazon divide its operations so that Indian employees only process sales and purchases based in India? What happens with sales from India to USA or vice-versa?
I am failing to grasp what exactly it is that you are saying here. With respect to extradition, India and USA already have a treaty.
That's not what I said.
>So these kinds of things can be avoided if Amazon were to hire decision makers who make minimum wage or whatever the lowest amount they can get away with in US?
That would address some of the issues and not others, all of which were laid out in my original comment. (Hint: read the words after "Indian".)
>process sales and purchases
This had nothing to do with my comment, which is clearly not about people processing sales.
I originally literally quoted the entire sentence from your original comment, which came after "Indian". We could do without the snide remarks. I was genuinely trying to get your position, but all you are doing is making snide remarks and attempting to make yourself sound more knowledgeable than you are about the issue.
Now you're asserting that I'm lacking some knowledge about the issue, without bothering to specify what knowledge, specifically, I might be lacking.
This is not how good faith conversations tend to go.
Notice definition A. My usage is valid.
If someone thought I meant definition B, I'm sorry about that, I thought it was clear in context, given that OP listed the location and not the ancestry.
Not doing so - even if you don't do what they're asking - is possible grounds for disciplinary action if discovered later, e.g. these people are caught bribing others, their files are gone through, and your name pops up as somebody they approached and it's realised you kept quiet. At that point you may have damaged the trust your employer has in you.
People often underestimate how successful the successful dropshippers are.
Kudos to the OP on taking a moral stand. How many would do that?
> over $100,000 in commercial bribes to Amazon employees and contractors, in exchange for an unfair competitive advantage on the Amazon Marketplace
This is why those labelling the comments about Indian outsourcing as racist as missing the point. Outsourcing significant business operations to developing countries makes corruption and hostile interference really really cheap - and therefore far more likely.
Story from two years ago
This is mildly amusing, because obviously Amazon does all of these things, but it's fine because they're Amazon.
They are charged with "using electronic communications or digital networks to obtain money based on false representation or promises." Remember fraudsters: If you just meet these people at a McDonalds you wont be charged with a crime. Do not use mail or wires and watch the government squirm.
If you defraud your local grocery store with your coordination meetings in a local mcdonalds, it's _probably_ a state crime. ()
() (1) there are many ways a crime can slip into federal jurisdiction; (2) IANAL, so don't take advice from me when you're about to commit fraud.
For it to be a federal crime, there just needs to be federal interest. They can make it a federal crime if they're interested.
In United States v. Lopez, ___ U.S.____, 115 S.Ct. 1624 (1995), the Supreme Court invalidated, as beyond the powers of Congress under the Commerce Clause, the Gun Free School Zone Act, which criminalized the possession of a firearm within 1000 feet of a school.
Federal Interest doesn't define the jurisdiction of the Federal laws.
Why? Presumably because the state prosecutors are poorly funded compared to federal prosecutors?
For example, is an employee selling their knowledge about how a company works a bribe? Software contractors often sell information like that. But it does seem bribe-like.
Good rule of thumb: always get a receipt. No receipt, it's a bribe. If you're given a genuine-looking receipt, then you can probably get off the hook as a victim of fraud.
A popular scheme in my country:
- politician runs, possibly through proxy, nearly defunct NGO
- company supports NGO
- politician votes in favor of a company
- after politician's stint is over, he runs a series of speeches for the NGO to cash out
For eg. if the DMV starts a program where you can pay $50 to get an instant walk-in appointment, it's not a bribe. However, if a DMV employee asks you to slip her a 50 dollar bill in return of an instant appointment, that is a bribe.
One idea I’ve seen is that it should be legal to accept a bribe but not offer or solicit one. On taking the bribe, your legal protection is conditional on handing over the bribe to the appropriate authorities. There’s still some game theory at work, but you’ve at least given people that are susceptible to bribes some additional power.
Interesting that only the 3rd party sellers are indicted here. At least that's how it reads.
Maybe it's more complex on the Amazon side and some second wave is coming.
100k is not nearly enough to bribe several tech employees. But it’s impressive how effective bribing support can be.