AB InBev, Budweiser’s parent company, was recently accused of giving away nearly $1 million in free equipment to retailers in Massachusetts and breaking fair competition laws.
The charge comes after a 14-month investigation by the Massachusetts Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission (ABCC) into the wholesaler August A Busch & Co., according to the Boston Globe. Between 2014 and 2015, $942,200 worth of branded equipment like draft systems, coolers, and refrigerators was given to 442 retailers in the state.
Everything came free of charge to the retailers, so long as only AB InBev products were used.
The practice is illegal, and is known as inducement. As Cat Wolinski notes in Men’s Journal, it breaks section 204 CMR 2.08 of Massachusetts General Laws, which states:
“No licensee shall give or permit to be given money or any other thing of substantial value in any effort to induce any person to persuade or influence any other person to purchase, or contract for the purchase of any particular brand or kind of alcoholic beverages, or to persuade or influence any person to refrain from purchasing, or contracting for the purchase of any particular brand or kind of alcoholic beverages.”
It’s another notch in the bed post for the company, which has been racking up accusations of manipulating the beer market against craft beer and doing business in a generally sketchy manner. AB InBev, however, says the company acted in accordance with the law.
A public hearing where AB InBev will contest the latest allegations is scheduled for June 20, 2017.