Source: Beer Business Daily
September 7, 2018
Yesterday we reported that the TTB issued a statement claiming Illinois’ Skokie Valley Beverage Company does not currently hold a valid wholesaler basic permit “due to unreported changes in ownership and control, and that continued operations without a valid permit may constitute a criminal offense.”
It’s a bit confusing, so we talked to Tom Hogue, Director, Congressional and Public Affairs. He confirmed that the permit violation was unearthed during an unrelated trade practice investigation: “One thing leads to another, [we] come up with leads, it develops into another investigation… this particular case started getting worked in March.”
With the announcement, Tom said, the TTB wanted to remind industry members to keep permits current. Beyond that, “We’ve had a lot of questions from the industry — ‘What are you finding in your investigations? What are you looking for?’ This was an opportunity to say, ‘Well, this is what we found… here’s an example.’
In the case of Skokie, we understand, there’s no offer in compromise, no valid permit and no new movement toward permit renewal, so “this industry member is apparently not continuing.” At issue was “a combination of unreported changes,” apparently more than just the deals we reported closed over the summer.
But don’t think this is the last you’ll hear from the TTB for awhile.
“I’m sure we’ll be seeing more offers in compromise, and press releases in the near future,” Tom said, as they’ve been doing “a number of these investigations for awhile now,” and it’s not unusual to take a year to resolve things.
Which begs the question: Is the TTB starting to get a bit overzealous?
One distributor source believes the TTB is going too far, levying exorbitant fines. Are they trying to find technicalities on things like permits, and using that as leverage to try to get them to settle otherwise shaky trade practice cases?
And with precedence like the $900,000 fine we saw with the Warsteiner case earlier this year [see BBD 05-03-2018], are things about to get out of hand? More next week.