SLA Issues $3.5 Million Penalty Against Wholesale Giant
The State Liquor Authority accepted a conditional no contest offer from Southern Glazer Wine & Spirits (SGWS) to settle charges that SGWS engaged in “pay-to-play” by providing illegal gifts and services to business to influence their purchasing decisions, for permitting incomplete, inaccurate, and inadequate recordkeeping practices, and for engaging in discriminatory sales. Some of these violations constitute serious and systemic violations of the 2006 Wholesale Consent Order and Decree.
Southern has agreed to pay $3.5 million in civil penalties, the largest fine ever imposed by the SLA, as well as one of the largest fines imposed by any state liquor administrator. In addition to the $3.5 million civil penalty, the SLA and SGWS have agreed to a groundbreaking new Corporate Compliance Agreement. The program will be one of the first of its kind within the alcoholic beverage control industry, creating additional obligations and responsibilities on SWGS to report suspicious activity directly to the SLA for investigation and possible prosecution. By working together to identify suspicious activity early, SGWS and SLA are creating a new scalable and replicable compliance model for the industry. The Corporate Compliance Agreement includes a Code of Business Conduct and Ethics, a Corporate Compliance Program and Policy, and provides for a Corporate Compliance Officer, as jointly appointed by the SLA and SGWS, to monitor and address suspicious activity both to SLA and SGWS.