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Amazon probes allegations of employees leaking data for bribes: report

Amazon probes allegations of employees leaking data for bribes: report
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Amazon.com is reportedly investigating company employees suspected of leaking internal data to sellers for profit.

Multiple employees have been accused of deleting negative reviews and leaking confidential sales metrics to sellers in exchange for thousands of dollars, The Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday. The internal metrics and deletion of unfavorable reviews can help sellers gain an advantage over their competitors.

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"We hold our employees to a high ethical standard and anyone in violation of our Code faces discipline, including termination and potential legal and criminal penalties,” an Amazon spokeswoman told the Journal in a statement.

The company launched an internal investigation in May, when Eric Broussard, a vice president at Amazon, learned that several employees in China were accepting bribes from sellers, the Journal reported.

Amazon's spokeswoman said the online retail giant has since restricted the amount of access employees have to internal information.

People familiar with the matter told the Journal that some employees have been charging sellers $300 for each negative review they delete. The brokers often ask that sellers buy five reviews at a time, according to the Journal.

Employees have also been tipping off sellers about keywords and strategies to help businesses get listed near the top in searches on Amazon.

Many of the alleged incidents of bribery are emanating out of China, where wages for Amazon employees are relatively low, according to the Journal. Some businesses in the U.S. are also being investigated for offering bribes.

"We have zero tolerance for abuse of our systems and if we find bad actors who have engaged in this behavior, we will take swift action against them,” Amazon's spokeswoman told the Journal. 

Amazon in recent months has been the target of attacks by President TrumpDonald John TrumpThe Guardian slams Trump over comments about assault on reporter Five takeaways from the first North Dakota Senate debate Watchdog org: Tillerson used million in taxpayer funds to fly throughout US MORE and Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersBooker holds 'Get Out the Vote' event in South Carolina as presidential speculation builds The Democratic Donald Trump is coming Biden: Trump administration 'coddles autocrats and dictators' MORE (I-Vt.).

Trump has slammed the company's agreement with the U.S. Postal Service to ship packages at reduced rates, while Sanders has publicized allegations that Amazon mistreats its workers