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Poultry producer to pay $110M fine over chicken price-fixing allegations

Poultry producer to pay $110M fine over chicken price-fixing allegations
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The poultry producer Pilgrim’s Pride Corporation announced on Wednesday that it has entered into a plea agreement in the Justice Department’s antitrust probe into the industry, agreeing to a $110 million fine. 

Pilgrim’s will pay the nine-figure fine for alleged restraint of competition that officials say affected three contracts for sale of chicken products to one customer in the U.S. 

The agreement does not recommend a monitor, restitution or probationary period, the company said, and the Department of Justice (DOJ) will not bring any further chargers against the company. The deal is subject to approval by the U.S. District Court of Colorado.

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“Pilgrim’s is committed to fair and honest competition in compliance with U.S. antitrust laws,” CEO Fabio Sandri said in a statement. “We are encouraged that today’s agreement concludes the Antitrust Division’s investigation into Pilgrim’s, providing certainty regarding this matter to our team members, suppliers, customers and shareholders.”

The DOJ expanded its probe of the industry on Oct. 7, and has now charged 10 executives with conspiring to fix prices and rig bids for broiler chicken products from 2012 to early 2019. 

Among the six defendants most recently charged were William Lovette, former CEO of Pilgrim’s Pride, as well Pilgrim’s executives William Kantola and Jimmie Little. Little faces one additional charge for making false statements to federal law enforcement and one count of obstruction of justice. 

Pilgrim’s Pride current executive Jayson Penn and former Vice President Roger Austin were charged in June

The Hill has reached out to the DOJ for further comment.