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Craft Brewers Guild settles US$750,000 pay-to-play fine

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The Massachusetts alcohol distributor charged with so-called "pay-to-play" practices has agreed a compromise US$750,000 fine with US authorities.

The Craft Brewers Guild admitted to the violation earlier this year

The Craft Brewers Guild admitted to the violation earlier this year

The fine is less than the multi-million-dollar penalty reportedly imposed on the Craft Brewers Guild of Everett after it was found to be paying bars in exchange for tap space. Under US law, pay-to-play is not allowed.

Announcing the fine, the US Alcohol & Tobacco Tax & Trade Bureau (TTB) said: "This sort of pay-to-play activity is incompatible with fair competition and will be actively investigated by TTB."

In an interview with The Boston Globe this week, the TTB's Trade Investigations Division director, Robert Angelo, said the settlement - the biggest offer in compromise that TTB has recovered from a single industry member for trade violations - was a warning to others.

"This is not something I intend to walk away from," he said. "You're going to see further investigations in this area."

The pay-to-play system first came to light after a brewer represented by the Craft Brewers Guild complained about the practice on Twitter in 2014, according to The Globe. The subsequent investigation found that the distributor had paid at least US$120,000 to Boston bars and restaurants.


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