16:56 EST, 1 December 2016 | 19:17 EST, 1 December 2016
Daniel Aston’s premises were raided in an operation with the FBI (file picture)
An online poster salesman has become the first person in the UK to be banned as a director for price-fixing – and could face ten years in a US prison.
Daniel Aston’s home and premises in Birmingham were raided by police in an operation with the FBI after it emerged he had a secret agreement with a competitor on Amazon.
His company Trod has been fined £163,371 after it pledged not to undercut its rival on prices for posters and frames. In a landmark ruling, Aston, 45, has been handed a five-year ban from serving as a UK director by the Competition and Markets Authority.
Trod has been hit with a £40,000 fine in the US, and Aston has been charged with price fixing under American law.
If found guilty, he would face a maximum £800,000 fine and up to a decade behind bars.
The secret price-fixing deal came to light when the other company involved, GB Posters, blew the whistle and was granted immunity from punishment.
Authorities found Trod used automated repricing software as part of the deal.
The firm – which is now in administration – sold posters featuring characters from Star Wars, Batman, the Simpsons and Pulp Fiction.
Musicians such as Beyonce and Nirvana also featured, as well as children’s favourites Thomas The Tank Engine and My Little Pony.
Trod turned over £15.1million in the year to April 2015, making a profit of £124,524, and employed 110 people.