Bumble Bee Foods LLC will plead guilty to fixing prices for packaged tuna and pay a criminal fine of at least $25 million in the first charges to be filed against a corporation in the U.S. Department of Justice’s ongoing criminal antitrust investigation into the seafood industry, the DOJ said Monday, May 8, 2017.
According to the DOJ, Bumble Bee colluded to inflate tuna prices from 2011 through 2013. The DOJ alleged that Bumble Bee representatives attended meetings with counterparts at other seafood companies to carry out a conspiracy to maintain packaged tuna prices at artificially high levels.
The investigation has sparked lawsuits by private parties that have accused Bumble Bee, StarKist Co. and Tri-Union Seafoods LLC, doing business as Chicken of the Sea, of fixing the price of packaged tuna products in the U.S. Several class actions over the allegations have been consolidated in the Southern District of California. The lawsuits, including one by Wal-Mart Stores Inc., allege that the companies conspired to fix the price of packaged tuna beginning sometime between 2008 and 2010 and ending in July 2015.