Bumble Bee CEO indicted for tuna price fixing

17 May, 2018, 21:08 | Author: Regina Silva
  • Federal prosecutors have secured an indictment against Christopher Lischewski the CEO of Bumble Bee Foods on one count of price fixing

The Justice Department said a federal grand jury in San Francisco indicted Christopher Lischewski on felony charges of conspiring with other companies to fix prices and limit competition for packaged seafood sold in the United States between November 2010 and December 2013. One, who served as senior vice president for sales, pleaded guilty a year ago. Although the Justice Department doesn't name the co-conspirators, major grocery chains, including Walmart, Kroger and Albertsons, sued Bumble Bee, Starkist and the maker of Chicken-of-the-Sea in 2016 for fixing prices.

Lischewski's attorney, John Keker of San Francisco-based Keker, Van Nest & Peters, said his client is innocent of the charges.

We might've dubbed 2017 the Year of Epic Protein Collusion: throughout much of it, we were chasing the seemingly endless rollout of price-fixing conspiracy allegations and class-actions against the poultry industry.

The Bumble Bee CEO has been charged with conspiring to inflate tuna prices.

According to the indictment, Lischewski could face a maximum punishment of 10 years in prison, a $1 million fine, three years of supervised release and restitution.

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"American consumers deserve free enterprise, not fixed prices, so the department will not tolerate crimes like the one charged in today's indictment", Delrahim added.

The three firms are the largest suppliers of canned tuna in the U.S., so consumers and suppliers rely on competition between them to keep prices low.

The Justice Department says Bumble Bee Foods has already pleaded guilty and been sentenced to pay a criminal fine of at least $25 million as a result of the investigation. The legal complaints go further than the DoJ's statements, alleging that the price-fixing took place for a much longer period of time - some suits say it began in 2004 - and included other packaged seafood products produced by the brands, not just tuna.

Bumble Bee general counsel Jill Irvin has said the company hired a chief compliance officer last fall and recently reformed its guidelines and policies.

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