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Amazon is the 'worst possible corporate citizen,' says Harvey Norman chairman

E-commerce giant Amazon's upcoming launch Down Under might have consumers in a tizzy, but not everyone is thrilled at the online retailer's entry to the Australian market.

"Amazon is the worst possible corporate citizen to have in our midst. There's not a retailer in the world, practically, that likes Amazon," Gerry Harvey, chairman of Australian retailer Harvey Norman, told CNBC's "Street Signs" on Monday.

"Amazon is a marauder. It's crossed America. It's sent lots of businesses broke," he added.

Local media reports state that the online retailer is set to launch in Australia in September 2017, and is in the process of constructing warehouse and fulfilment centers. News.com.au reported that Amazon's offerings in Australia would include its grocery delivery service, AmazonFresh.

Amazon did not reply to an emailed request sent after office hours whether this was accurate.

If Amazon's impact on U.S. retailers is anything to go by, Australian retailers could be in for a tough time. Traditional retailers, such as Target and J.C. Penny, have faltered on the back of customers making the switch to shopping online.

Shoppers walk the furniture showroom at a Harvey Norman outlet in Sydney.
Jason Reed | Reuters
Shoppers walk the furniture showroom at a Harvey Norman outlet in Sydney.

Harvey also took aim at Amazon's track record when it came to taxes, saying that the online retailer was not pulling its weight.

"Amazon's got a 23-year history of not paying taxes, evading taxes and sending people broke," Harvey said, "Amazon is worth $500 billion and they've virtually made no profit or paid (any) taxes in 23 years. Now they'll stand up and say, yes we've paid a little bit here and there, but nothing in comparison to the joint that they are."

This is not the first time the tech company has come under fire for issues related to corporate taxes. Amazon's tax policies were previously scrutinized by lawmakers over a tax deal in Luxembourg.

Ultimately, Harvey acknowledged that there was little traditional retailers could do to prevent Amazon's from disrupting the Australian retail scene.

"I can't stop them … And there's a lot of people out there who say, we want want Amazon here because we'll buy things cheaper. But if Amazon had their way, they're going to put as many retailers out of business as possible, not contribute to the economy and so it's a short-term gain for some people (but) long-term pain for everyone," Harvey said.

"How are they going to be any good to Australia? They've been no good to America. Nothing's going to change," Harvey added.

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