Federal prosecutors are investigating whether Amazon hid injury rates to fraudulently secure loans
- Prosecutors are investigating whether Amazon deceived lenders about its injury rates.
- Federal regulators are increasingly scrutinizing Amazon's safety record.
Prosecutors for the Southern District of New York are investigating whether Amazon "engaged in a fraudulent scheme" to deceive lenders about injury rates at its warehouses in order to obtain credit, the Department of Justice said Wednesday.
The investigation was announced on the same day federal workplace safety regulators filed four new citations against Amazon over hazards related to its pace of work, which inspectors found put workers at high risk for back, muscle, and joint injuries. The citations were the latest in a string of fines leveled against Amazon for putting workers at risk of such injuries.
An Amazon spokesperson did not immediately respond to questions.
Media reports and federal inspections have previously alleged that Amazon has underreported and misrepresented injuries at its facilities.
In December, federal regulators cited Amazon for not recording worker injuries properly. A 2020 investigation by the nonprofit newsroom Reveal found that Amazon had "deceived the public" about an epidemic of injuries among its warehouse workers. As far back as 2015, regulators fined Amazon for failing to record injuries as required.
In his first letter to shareholders last April, Amazon CEO Andy Jassy cited misleading statistics to claim that Amazon's injury rate is "sometimes misunderstood." Jassy's statements prompted the Strategic Organizing Center, a union umbrella group, to ask the Securities and Exchange Commission to investigate whether the company was deceiving investors.
The precise details of the SDNY's investigation into whether Amazon misrepresented injury rates to potential creditors are not immediately clear from the Department of Justice's press release. A spokesperson for the Department of Justice did not immediately respond to questions.
The investigation is taking place as regulators and media have increased their scrutiny of injuries in Amazon warehouses.
An Insider investigation last year found that Amazon's pace of work wildly increases the risk of debilitating muscle and joint injuries for its more than 750,000 US warehouse workers. Workers at Amazon warehouses are four times as likely to suffer such injuries as workers in non-Amazon warehouses, a review of Washington state workers' compensation data showed.
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