The chief executive officer of Bumble Bee Foods has been indicted on one count of price fixing as part of an ongoing investigation that includes at least three other current or former executives at packaged-seafood producers.
A San Francisco grand jury has charged that Christopher Lischewski conspired with others in his industry from November 2010 to December 2013 to eliminate competition and set prices for canned tuna, the U.S. Department of Justice said in a statement Wednesday.
The government began investigating Bumble Bee Foods, Starkist and Chicken of the Sea more than two years ago, according to the Associated Press. Stephen Hodge, a former executive at StarKist, pleaded guilty to price fixing last year. Two other Bumble Bee executives also have pleaded guilty.
“The Antitrust Division is committed to prosecuting senior executives who unjustly profit at the expense of their customers,” Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division said in the statement. “American consumers deserve free enterprise, not fixed prices, so the Department will not tolerate crimes like the one charged in today’s indictment.”
John Keker, Lischewski’s attorney, told the AP his client is innocent and that he will be vindicated.
Bumble Bee, according to the DOJ, already has pleaded guilty and agreed to pay a fine of $25 million.