The senior vice-president of sales at US seafood group Bumble Bee Foods, Walter Scott Cameron, has agreed to plead guilty for his role in a conspiracy to fix the prices of packaged seafood sold in the country.

According to a one-count felony charge filed in the US District Court for the Northern District of California in San Francisco, “Cameron and his co-conspirators agreed to fix the prices of packaged seafood from as early as 2011 until about 2013”, a statement from the US Department of Justice said.

The charge, which follows an investigation into alleged price fixing by the DOJ, does not name the company Cameron works for. However, the DOJ said in addition to Cameron’s guilty plea, which is subject to court approval, he “has agreed to pay a criminal fine and cooperate with the division’s ongoing investigation”.  

According to the charge, “Cameron and his co-conspirators discussed the prices of packaged seafood sold in the US and agreed to fix the prices of those products”, the DOJ said.

“The defendant and his co-conspirators negotiated prices and issued price announcements for packaged seafood in accordance with the agreements they reached.”

Acting assistant attorney general Renata Hesse of the DOJ’s antitrust division said the charge is the first to be filed in the division’s “ongoing investigation into price-fixing among some of the largest suppliers of canned tuna and other packaged seafood”.

“All consumers deserve competitive prices for these important kitchen staples, and companies and executives who cheat those consumers will be held criminally accountable,” Hesse said.

The special agent in charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s San Francisco division John Bennett said: “These charges demonstrate our continued commitment to investigate and pursue those individuals and companies seeking to victimise consumers through illegal business practices that threaten our community’s ability to pay fair prices for food for their families.”