One of the nation's best-known tuna brands has been netted in a price-fixing case.
Bumble Bee Foods will plead guilty to conspiring to fix the cost of canned and pouch tuna, the Justice Department announced Monday.
The department said Bumble Bee was able to set prices for as much as two and half years -- from as early as the first quarter of 2011 through as late as the fourth quarter of 2013 -- and has agreed to pay a $25 million fine. The fine could increase to $81.5 million if the company is sold.
“Today’s charge is 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,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Andrew Finch in a statement. “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.”
The plea deal is subject to court approval.
Bumble Bee responded by saying that it has "taken this matter very seriously and fully cooperated" with the department, In the statement from its general counsel, Jill Irvin, the seafood canner says it has new internal polices in place and that "we accept full responsibility for needing to earn back any lost trust in our company" She said the company will act with "integrity and transparency" in the future.
Bumble Bee's says it is North America’s largest branded "shelf-stable" seafood company.
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