Two sellers on Amazon marketplace have pleaded guilty to price fixing DVDs and Blu-Ray Discs after being accused of selling products at collusive and non-competitive prices.
Guilty Plea in Blu-Ray and DVD Price Fixing Scheme
Bruce Fish of Hayfield, Minnesota, and Victor Btesh of Brooklyn, New York, both admitted to conspiring to fix prices through their companies on the Amazon marketplace. Fish’s BDF Enterprises along with three other corporate entities owned by Btesh are the first corporate defendants to plead guilty to these particular charges.
Sherman Act Violations
The defendants were accused of a criminal violation of the Sherman Act – an antitrust law which prescribes the rule of free competition among those engaged in commerce. The offence carries a statutory maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, a $1 million criminal fine for individuals, and a $100 million fine for corporate entities.
The maximum fine can also be increased to twice the amount gained from the illegal activity if the amount gained is found to be greater than the statutory maximum fine.
Protecting Consumers from Fraud
Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Kanter of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division spoke about the importance of fair competition in online business, saying: “As e-commerce has become a cornerstone of the economy, it is vital to protect fair and open competition in online marketplaces. Conspiring to fix prices, wherever that conduct may occur, harms competition.”
The FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division Assistant Director Luis Quesada added: “Cases like these demonstrate the FBI’s dedication to investigating those who look to operate outside of the law to conspire to fix prices in the consumer marketplace. The FBI and our law enforcement partners remain committed to protecting consumers against all forms of fraud, schemes and illegal activity, and bringing those who orchestrate these crimes to justice.”
Defendants Await Sentencing
A federal district court judge will decide the defendants’ sentences after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors. Anyone with information concerning price fixing on Amazon Marketplace should contact the Antitrust Division’s Chicago Office.
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