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Justice Department Subpoenas eBay's Butterfield in Price-Fix Probe


As part of an ongoing probe to investigate price-fixing in commissions at several auction houses, the

Department of Justice

has issued a subpoena to

Butterfield & Butterfield

, the San Francisco-based auction house acquired by


(EBAY) - Get Report

in April of last year.

In a filing with the

Securities and Exchange Commission

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Thursday, eBay said the Justice Department subpoenaed documents last week that related to "changes in sellers' commissions and buyers' premiums" and to discussions between Butterfield officials and other auction houses dating back to 1992. eBay also said that the cost of providing documents for the investigation could hurt its future earnings.

According to

Associated Press

reports, eBay spokesman Kevin Pursglove said the company cannot comment on the details of the subpoena itself but plans to cooperate fully with authorities.

It is still not clear whether Butterfield is being asked to provide information about two of its chief rivals,


(BID) - Get Report




Recent reports claim Sotheby's and Christie's are being investigated by the Justice Department for their mutual failure to charge commission fees to their wealthiest clients. Both auction houses say they are cooperating with prosecutors.