Amazon boss Jeff Bezos, the wealthiest person in the world, is being questioned by the FBI about a leaked trove of information about the company. Bezos is not being investigated for possible collusion in connection with the alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. The FBI, the New York Times reports, is looking into the leak of a three-paragraph email document allegedly sent by a senior manager at Amazon to a Washington Post reporter in November. Bezos, Amazon’s CEO, owns the Post.
The contents of the email, written by Amazon general counsel David Madden, are said to have been leaked to The Post by a well-connected, longtime Amazon employee. The leak — one that at one point caught the attention of members of President Trump’s legal team — reportedly revealed details about negotiation over Amazon’s planned new $5 billion headquarters and covered the salaries of top executives and political contributors to the company. Details of Amazon’s headquarters project, which has now been completed, have been dribbling out for months; last week, Trump tweeted that the deal was “Corrupt” and wanted to give Amazon “big Tariffs to protect Taxpaying Amazon customers.”
On Tuesday, a spokesperson for the president issued a statement saying that The Post provided an opportunity to provide the opportunity for this kind of information to leak out to reporters at a major outlet, adding that it was wrong for Bezos to be getting it “at this stage.”
“The FBI can confirm that, as part of an ongoing investigation, the FBI is conducting a criminal leak investigation into media leaks and has asked the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia to conduct the investigation,” said Bill Priestap, a special agent in charge of the FBI’s New York Field Office. Priestap did not say who sent the leak.
Madden, who has been with Amazon for more than 16 years, announced in an employee email that he would be taking a leave of absence at a cost of $53,000 a month. The possibility of criminal action against Amazon, for the first time in its history, has prompted consternation in Seattle, where Bezos has a home. A committee of employees recently submitted a resolution calling for an investigation into whether the leaks to The Post impacted Amazon’s ability to effectively deliver packages, which are a large portion of the company’s revenue.
“I do not believe it is appropriate to punish one employee who released a clearly public record or a press release without a determination of culpability,” the resolution said. “However, there should be a thorough and transparent examination of the company’s leak controls and security procedures to assess how and why information was shared so widely and for so long.”
Madden has not commented publicly on the investigation but did say in his employee email that he hoped that it would be finished “as soon as possible.”
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