January 31, 2019 / 10:20 PM / 6 months ago

U.S. charges G Nova of Taiwan with price fixing conspiracy; Netbrands settles

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. government is pursuing charges against Taiwanese company G Nova Corp and its chief executive over allegations of fixing prices for promotional items marketed on the internet, while a second company, Netbrands Media Corp and two executives agreed to plead guilty.

A grand jury in Texas handed up an indictment on Wednesday against G Nova Corp and Chief Executive Officer Yeh Fei Chu, the Department of Justice said in a statement. They are accused of participating in a conspiracy to fix the prices of foam or fabric sleeves to insulate beverage cans or bottles, the department said.

Neither G Nova nor the executive could immediately be reached for comment outside of business hours in Taiwan.

Earlier in January, Netbrands, which makes lanyards, temporary tattoos and other promotional items, agreed to plead guilty and pay a $6 million criminal fine, the department said.

Its top executives, Mashnoon Ahmed and Mueen Akhter, also agreed to plead guilty, the department said.

“The results announced today are the latest in a series of charges against eleven defendants filed in the division’s ongoing investigation into conspiracies that corrupted the online marketplace,” Makan Delrahim, the head of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division, said in a statement.

Including Netbrands and G Nova, five companies and six executives in the customized promotional products industry have faced charges related to price fixing, the department said.

Reporting by Diane Bartz; editing by Grant McCool

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