DOJ tackles tuna price-fixing scheme

DOJ tackles tuna price-fixing scheme
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The Department of Justice (DOJ) is cracking down on one of the largest canned tuna companies in the U.S. over what it says was a major price-fixing scheme.

The California-based seafood company Bumble Bee Foods pleaded guilty Monday to violating U.S. antitrust laws by conspiring to fix canned and pouch tuna fish prices, according to the DOJ.

The price fixing occurred in “shelf-stable tuna fish” products from 2011 through 2013, the DOJ said.

The case is being considered in a San Francisco federal court.

If the court accepts the plea deal, Bumble Bee would pay a fine of at least $25 million. However, if the company is sold, the fine could increase to more than $81 million, according to the company’s agreement with the DOJ.

The tuna fish price-fixing scheme is part of a larger seafood antitrust investigation undertaken by the Justice Department and FBI.

“Today’s charge is the third to be filed — and the first to be filed against a corporate defendant — in the [DOJ’s] antitrust division’s ongoing investigation into price fixing among some of the largest suppliers of packaged seafood,” said Andrew Finch, the DOJ’s acting assistant attorney general.

Bumble Bee did not immediately respond to a request for comment.