An Amazon seller-consultant who pleaded guilty to conspiracy and tax charges was sentenced to 20 months in prison in a case involving bribery of Amazon employees. The case made headlines in 2020 when the government filed charges against multiple defendants – see “Amazon Takedown: Bribes, a Suitcase of Cash, Cyber Vandalism.” One co-defendant faces trial in May and two other co-defendants face sentencing in June.
U.S. Attorney Nick Brown said in a DOJ press release on Friday, “Mr. Nuhanovic and his coconspirators bribed Amazon employees to reinstate banned products, or to remove bad reviews. Even after Amazon fired one of the coconspirators, Mr. Nuhanovic didn’t stop, he just recruited and bribed more employees for his and his coconspirators’ benefit.”
The government alleged that the defendant bribed Amazon employees to gain inside information that gave him a competitive advantage for his own business and alleged he also made money by selling some of the insider information to others.
The defendant also used the inside information to help clients get reinstated and to “gin up false allegations about competitors,” including one who was suspended from the Amazon Marketplace because of a false intellectual property complaint filed by the defendant and coconspirators, according to the DOJ press release. “The coconspirators also sought confidential information on customers who posted bad reviews so that they could harass them.”
“In asking the court to impose a two-year sentence, Assistant United States Attorney Miriam Hinman wrote to the court, “Nuhanovic and the co-conspirators’ crimes hurt Amazon and its users by violating basic principles of secure commerce upon which everyone relies. As our economy’s dependence on digital storefronts, platforms, and data continues to grow, almost every business entrusts its employees with valuable information—from key cards to private customer information—and the law must impose consequences on those who seek to wantonly violate that trust for personal profit.””
The government charged six people in the scheme and alleged that bribes were paid to at least ten different Amazon employees and contractors, including one who had been a seller-support associate in Hyderabad, India, before becoming an outside consultant who allegedly recruited and paid bribes to his former colleagues.
The government said another defendant in the case pleaded guilty and was sentenced last year to ten months in prison and a $50,000 fine, and two other defendants pleaded guilty and are scheduled for sentencing on June 9, 2023. A fifth defendant is scheduled for trial on May 15, 2023. Defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
In previous reporting on the case, an Amazon spokesperson provided EcommerceBytes with the following statement: “We work hard to create a trustworthy shopping experience by protecting customers, selling partners, and Amazon from fraud and abuse, and we have systems in place to detect suspicious behavior. There is no place for fraud at Amazon, and we worked with the Department of Justice to hold these bad actors accountable. We will pursue all measures to protect our store from those who attempt to compromise its integrity.”