StarKist must pay a criminal fine of $100 million, the statutory maximum, for its role in a conspiracy to fix prices for canned tuna sold in the United States, the Department of Justice announced Wednesday. The packaged seafood company was also sentenced to a 13-month term of probation.
StarKist’s price-fixing scheme ran from as early as November 2011 through at least as late as December 2013, according to the DOJ. As part of the sentencing hearing, U.S. District Judge Edward Chen found StarKist had not proven its financial circumstances justified a criminal fine lower than the maximum.
In addition to the criminal fine and term of probation, StarKist has also agreed to cooperate in the Antitrust Division’s ongoing investigation.
The settlement “demonstrates our commitment to enforcing the antitrust laws aggressively against companies that fix prices,” said Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim of the Antitrust Division.
A total of six charges have resulted from an ongoing federal antitrust investigation into the packaged-seafood industry, which is being conducted by the Antitrust Division’s San Francisco Office and the FBI’s San Francisco Field Office. In May 2017, seafood company Bumble Bee pleaded guilty and agreed to pay a $25 million criminal fine for price fixing.