UK Amazon seller raided by the FBI for price fixing

A British Amazon seller faces possible extradition to the States following FBI led raids on his UK premises last month.

The allegation is that the company director “and his co-conspirators fixed the price of certain posters sold online through Amazon Marketplace from as early as September 2013 to in or about January 2014“. In the US this comes under the Sherman Act which deals with antitrust (anti-cartel) issues.

In a salutatory reminder to UK sellers that just because America is thousands of miles away and the other side of the Atlantic, it doesn’t mean you’re totally immune to their law. The seller is charged with price fixing in violation of the Sherman Act, which carries a maximum sentence for individuals of 10 years and a fine of $1 million.

West Midlands Police, handling the raids on behalf of the FBI, successfully conducted searches of the companies premises as well as the owner’s home in West Midlands early in December, along with UK Competition and Markets Authority officers. Bizarrely the business has less to worry about in the UK as it’s a civil matter, whereas in the US the company and owner are facing criminal charges.

The US Department of Justice say “It doesn’t matter whether price-fixers operate from an office in California or a warehouse in England. We will continue to prosecute conspiracies that subvert online competition“.

It’s a worrying time for the business and in particular the director who has our greatest sympathies. It’s the first time we’ve heard of a UK marketplace seller facing extradition to the US for alleged price fixing. However the law is the law and no matter which countries you choose to trade in you need to ensure you abide by local customs and legislation.