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Amazon, Walmart’s Flipkart Add Riley, Panigrahi to Legal Ranks

Jan. 8, 2021, 9:55 PM

Amazon.com Inc. and Walmart Inc.‘s India e-commerce operation, Flipkart, have added a pair of veteran lawyers to their in-house ranks.

Cozen O’Connor partner Sean Riley has joined Amazon as a senior manager for public policy in Washington. Flipkart has hired JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s India head of legal, Saroj Panigrahi, as a senior vice president and general counsel.

Riley, who disclosed his new role at Amazon this month on his LinkedIn profile, worked within Cozen’s state attorneys general practice, which the firm acquired in 2015 from now-defunct Dickstein Shapiro. He joined the firm’s D.C. office five years ago after serving as a chief deputy attorney general in Kentucky.

Cozen confirmed the departure of Riley, who didn’t respond to a request for comment about his move to Amazon.

At Flipkart, Panigrahi will take over from Bijoya Roy as she transitions to a vice president of legal role at the company, according to reports in the Indian business press. Roy, hired in 2019 from Thomson Reuters Corp., will report to Panigrahi.

Flipkart, based in Bangalore, India, didn’t respond to an after-hours request for comment about the transition of its top in-house legal duties.

Walmart, which in November hired Deborah Vaughn as general counsel for its international business, owns at least a 77% stake in Flipkart. The Bentonville, Ark.-based retailer led a $1.2 billion fundraising round in Flipkart last year.

Flipkart is reportedly planning for an initial public offering in India by 2022. It saw a top Indian court put on hold an antitrust probe of the company last month.

Amazon Additions

Bellevue, Wash.-based Amazon, which last year acquired self-driving vehicle technology company Zoox Inc. and recently bolted on podcasting startup Wondery Inc., has been busy in recent months growing its in-house legal and compliance staff.

Riley joins Sean Pugh, a former antitrust counsel at Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath in Washington, who also joined Amazon as a senior manager for public policy.

Pugh, a former Senate Judiciary Committee staffer who once worked for Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), was recruited by Amazon to speak with Republicans on Capitol Hill about competition matters, he told Bloomberg Law last summer.

Bloomberg News reported last year on Amazon setting new records for lobbying as the company, led by billionaire CEO Jeff Bezos, hired hundreds of thousands of new workers to meet increased demand spurred on by the coronavirus pandemic. Amazon disclosed that roughly 20,000 workers had Covid-19.

Amazon general counsel David Zapolsky, who last year apologized about an email he wrote about a litigious labor activist, didn’t respond to a request for comment about the number of lawyers hired by the company last year. Amazon itself also didn’t respond to inquiries on the matter.

Riley joins former Cozen partner Samantha Mazo at Amazon in Washington. She joined the company last year as a senior project manager for real estate.

Within the past three months, Amazon has hired two new corporate counsel in Foley & Lardner senior counsel Joshua Munro in Detroit and Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld counsel Theresa Perkins in New York, while also picking up Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart partner Shontell Powell in Atlanta as an associate general counsel for workplace safety and health.

In May, Amazon added Scott Fitzgerald as a corporate counsel for litigation and regulatory. Fitzgerald most recently served as an assistant chief of the health care and consumer products section of the Justice Department’s antitrust division.

Amazon has pushed back on claims by regulators in the U.S. and abroad that its market dominance has harmed competition.

To contact the reporter on this story: Brian Baxter in New York at bbaxter@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Chris Opfer at copfer@bloomberglaw.com
John Hughes at jhughes@bloombergindustry.com

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