Seafood company, Bumble Bee, pleaded guilty and agreed to pay a $25 million criminal fine resulting from an ongoing federal antitrust investigation into the packaged seafood industry, the Department of Justice announced. The plea agreement is subject to court approval.
According to a one-count felony charge filed May 8 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in San Francisco, Bumble Bee and its co-conspirators agreed to fix the prices of shelf-stable tuna fish from as early as the first quarter of 2011 through at least as late as the fourth quarter of 2013.
The $25 million criminal fine will increase to a maximum criminal fine of $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 has also agreed to cooperate with the Antitrust Division’s ongoing investigation.
The charges against Bumble Bee were 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 Justice Department in December 2016 brought its first criminal charges against two high-ranking executives resulting from an ongoing federal antitrust investigation into the packaged seafood industry.
“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,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Andrew Finch of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division.