Bumble Bee Foods LLC agreed to plead guilty for its role in a conspiracy to fix the prices of shelf-stable tuna fish May 8, according to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). According to the agency, Bumble Bee and its co-conspirators agreed to fix the prices of shelf-table tuna fish from as early as the first quarter of 2011 through at least as late as the fourth quarter of 2013. The price-fixing scheme included canned and pouch tuna prices.
In addition to pleading guilty in the case, Bumble Bee will pay a $25 million criminal fine. The fine can increase to as much as $81.5 million, payable by a related entity, in the event of a sale of Bumble Bee subject to certain terms and conditions. Bumble Bee agreed to cooperate with the Antitrust Division's investigation, and the plea agreement remains subject to court approval.
Two notable members of the DOJ commented on the decision in the release.
Acting Assistant Attorney General Andrew Finch of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division: “Today’s charge is the third to be filed – and the first to be filed against a corporate defendant – in the Antitrust Division’s ongoing investigation into price fixing among some of the largest suppliers of packaged seafood. The division, along with our law enforcement colleagues, will continue to hold these companies and their executives accountable for conduct that targeted a staple in American households.”
Special Agent in Charge John F. Bennett of the FBI’s San Francisco Division: “We echo the Department of Justice Antitrust Division's sentiment. Companies small and large hold a great deal of the American peoples’ trust and this type of unfair, greedy behavior will not be tolerated.”