Your friends at the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) have accepted a $900,000 offer in compromise from Warsteiner Importers Agency Inc. for alleged violations of the trade practice provisions of the Federal Alcohol Administration (FAA) Act. Apparently this is the largest single offer in “compromise” for trade practice violations accepted by TTB to date. Yikes.
Warsteiner Importers Agency Inc. is alleged to have engaged in “Tied House, Commercial Bribery and Exclusive Outlet violations that either placed or had the potential to place the retailer’s independence at risk.” This offer in compromise was submitted to settle all possible alleged violations, and the TTB accepted. Warsteiner Importers Agency Inc. is based in Cincinnati, Ohio, and represents Warsteiner, Germany’s largest privately-owned brewery. According to the Cincinnati Business Courier:
Warsteiner paid for equipment for dedicated tap lines in a so-called “pay-for-play” arrangement, TTB spokesman Tom Hogue told me. It also paid for or sponsored events in exchange for exclusivity for its products, meaning other beer companies weren’t allowed to sell their products at those events. Hogue didn’t have specifics on which events those violations involved. Both are violations of trade practice laws.
The TTB would like to remind you that it remains committed to actively enforcing the trade practice provisions of the FAA Act so that consumers can continue to enjoy a wide selection of products and that industry members can compete for those consumers in a fair and open marketplace. Please visit www.ttb.gov for additional information on prohibited trade practices. And remember: Don’t do dumb shit like this.