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Bumble Bee CEO charged with price-fixing

17 May 2018

Following the criminal indictment Wednesday of Bumble Bee Foods CEO Chris Lischewski on price-fixing charges, the tuna industry magnate's attorney insisted he "will be found not guilty".

"American consumers deserve free enterprise, not fixed prices, so the department will not tolerate crimes like the one charged in today's indictment", Delrahim added.

Bumble Bee did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Lischewski's indictment. A private class-action lawsuit has accused Bumble Bee, Starkist and Tri Union Seafoods, also known as Chicken of the Sea, of conspiring to fix USA tuna prices.

Christopher Lischewski, president and chief executive officer of the iconic San Diego company, is the fourth person to be charged in the probe by the U.S. The Department of Justice alleged Lischewski and others conspired to issue price announcements and guidance to fix, raise and maintain the price of tuna from 2011 through 2013. Thai Union Group Plc's Chicken of the Sea is the largest, followed by Bumble Bee and StarKist.

"We are disappointed by the [Department of Justice's] decision to charge him with criminal conduct", Keker added.

Bumble Bee, based in San Diego, pleaded guilty previous year to a criminal charge of conspiring to fix tuna prices. Two of its executives agreed to plead guilty to price-fixing in December 2016, following an investigation by the Justice Department's Anti-Trust Division and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Some of the lawsuits also allege that at least 56 individuals from the brands - as well as representatives of organizations such as the National Fisheries Institute - took part in the conspiracy.

Bumble Bee and its co-defendants in the litigation are fighting the suits, asserting that the allegations are yet unproven.

Bumble Bee CEO charged with price-fixing