THE LATEST: Another E-Commerce Retailer Pleads Guilty in DOJ Investigation of Online Promotional Products Industry
On August 14, 2017, we reported on an online retailer’s guilty plea for conspiring to fix the prices of “customized promotional products” such as silicone wristbands and lanyards, and the ongoing US Department of Justice (DOJ) investigation into the online promotional products industry. On August 22, 2017, DOJ announced two more guilty pleas in the investigation, announcing that e-commerce company Custom Wristbands Inc. and its owner and CEO Christopher Angeles had pled guilty to violating the Sherman Act, 15 USC § 1.
- According to an Information filed in the US District Court for the Southern District of Texas by DOJ and the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Texas, Defendant Angeles and his co-conspirators engaged in a conspiracy from at least as early as June 2014 through at least June 2016 to “suppress and eliminate competition by fixing and maintaining prices of customized promotional products, including wristbands, sold in the United States and elsewhere.”
- DOJ alleges that Defendants and co-conspirators attended meetings and communicated via text and online messaging platforms regarding pricing for the online sale of customized promotional products.
- Defendant Custom Wristbands Inc. (d/b/a Kulayful Silicone Bracelets, Kulayful.com, Speedywristbands.com, Promotionalbands.com, Wristbandcreations.com, and 1inchbracelets.com) has agreed to pay a criminal fine in the amount of $409,342. Defendant Angeles faces up to 10 years in prison and up to a $1 million fine.
- DOJ has announced that both defendants have agreed to cooperate with the Antitrust Division’s ongoing investigation.
WHAT THIS MEANS:
- The DOJ Antitrust Division continues to investigate the “online promotional products industry” and we anticipate that additional defendants will be charged over the course of the investigation.
- DOJ continues to hold individual executives accountable in price fixing cases, even where their corporations plead guilty and agree to cooperate with ongoing investigations.