TTB has accepted a $1.5 million offer in compromise from QAC, LLC, which does business as Eagle Brands and is a wholesaler in Miami for alleged violations of the trade practice provisions of the Federal Alcohol Administration Act (FAA), specifically pay-to-play schemes. This is the largest single offer in compromise that TTB has ever accepted.
Eagle Brands claims to be an independent wholesaler but was once owned by Anheuser-Bush, and as often seems to be the case, that’s pretty much all it is distributing these days too. It has a few local craft brands, but that craft list is mostly filled out with AB InBev owned brands. The TTB is alleging Eagle Brands paid retailers to carry and promote its products to the exclusion of competing products and hid those payments as banquet events, credit card payments for rebates or consumer samplings. TTB also alleges that Eagle Brands employees provided retailers with draft systems that were to be used exclusively for Eagle Brands products.
While it is good to see the TTB stay watchful for this type of anti-competitive activity, we agree with this tweet from Kimberly Clements (@KCbeerchick):
I’ve been reading about a lot about #paytoplay activity & the million dollar fines you’ve been handing out (good job btw). In addition to the fines, may I suggest suspending licenses? That’s gonna leave a mark & change behavior.
— Kimberly Clements (@KCbeerchick) December 7, 2018