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Fresh trouble for Amazon in Germany as antitrust office probes web retailer's pricing policy

FILE - In this Dec. 11, 2012 file photo an employee of Amazon works at the company's logistic center in Pforzheim, Germany. Online retailer Amazon reacted to mounting criticism Monday, Feb. 18, 2013, by firing a security company named in a German television documentary about alleged mistreatment of foreign temporary workers. An Amazon spokeswoman in Germany said the company had ended its relationship with Hensel European Security Services "with immediate effect." (AP Photo/dpa, Jan-Philipp Strobel)

BERLIN - German antitrust authorities have begun questioning thousands of third-party traders about online retailer Amazon's policy of banning them from selling their products cheaper elsewhere on the web.

The Federal Antitrust Office said in a statement Wednesday that there is "considerable" evidence that Amazon's practice breached cartel rules by unduly hindering its competitors. Amazon didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

The probe comes days after Amazon faced criticism in Germany over the alleged mistreatment of temporary workers, many of them foreign.

A documentary aired by German public television channel ARD last week alleged that workers faced intimidation by security guards, random searches and constant pressure to increase their performance.

Earlier this week, Amazon fired a security subcontractor and a temporary staffing agency implicated in the documentary.


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