Amazon is facing a £15bn fine after the European Commission found the American multinational breached EU antitrust rules.

The EC sent a Statement of Objections to Amazon following a preliminary investigation into the company’s e-commerce business practices. According to the EC, Amazon used non-public data to distort competition in online retail markets.

In a statement released yesterday, the EC said: “The Commission takes issue with Amazon systematically relying on non-public business data of independent sellers who sell on its marketplace, to the benefit of Amazon’s own retail business, which directly competes with those third-party sellers.”

The Commission’s preliminary view is that Amazon’s use of seller data allows the company to skirt the normal risks of retail competition and “leverage its dominance in the market for the provision of marketplace services in France and Germany—the biggest markets for Amazon in the EU.”

Amazon has denied the charges, which, if proved, could see the company being fined 10% of its global turnover.

A second formal investigation has been launched by the EC to examine claims that Amazon gives preferential treatment to its own retail offers and to marketplace sellers that use Amazon’s logistics and delivery services.

“We must ensure that dual role platforms with market power, such as Amazon, do not distort competition,” said EC executive vice president Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy.

“Data on the activity of third-party sellers should not be used to the benefit of Amazon when it acts as a competitor to these sellers.”

Vestager added that an increase in the number of people shopping online meant the need for a level playing field for consumers and sellers was crucial.

“With e-commerce booming, and Amazon being the leading e-commerce platform, a fair and undistorted access to consumers online is important for all sellers,” she said.