The former chief executive of US-based Bumble Bee Foods, Chris Lischewski, has been found guilty of price fixing.
Lischewski resigned from the San Diego-based business last year after being indicted by a federal court for participating in a conspiracy to fix prices for packaged tuna sold in the US from at least 2011 to 2013.
Other US seafood firms, StarKist Co., a unit of South Korea’s Dungwon Group, and Chicken of the Sea, owned by the Thai Union Group, were also implicated in the scandal following an investigation by the US Department of Justice (DOJ).
A San Francisco jury returned a guilty verdict against Lischewski on Tuesday (3 December) and also concluded he conspired with StarKist and Chicken of the Sea to fix prices, according to Reuters, citing a filing in the federal court in San Francisco. The DOJ had alleged that Lischewski agreed to fix prices in meetings and other communications from November 2010 until December 2013, the news agency said.
Bumble Bee agreed in May 2017 to plead guilty to one count of price fixing and to pay a criminal fine of US$25m. In November, the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the face of criminal fines and lawsuits related to the case.
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Allegations tuna suppliers in the US had fixed prices emerged in 2015. A lawyer for one of the plaintiffs suggested at the time “suspicious activity” could have emerged when the DOJ reviewed the potential impact on competition of Thai Union’s move to buy rival US supplier Bumble Bee, which was announced in late 2014. Thai Union called off the planned deal in December 2015.