Christopher Lischewski was indicated by a San Francisco grand jury on one count of price fixing. He is seen in Washington DC on February 26 2008
The CEO of Bumble Foods has been charged with fixing the price of canned tuna as part of a major conspiracy to push up costs for shoppers.
Christopher Lischewski was indicted by a San Francisco grand jury on one count of price fixing, with prosecutors alleging that from November 2010 to December 2013 he conspired with two major rivals to keep tuna prices artificially high.
The scandal has already reeled in three more executives, who have all pleaded guilty to price fixing, two at Bumble Food and one at rival firm StarKist.
‘American consumers deserve free enterprise, not fixed prices, so the department will not tolerate crimes like the one charged in today’s indictment,’ said Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim.
Lischewski’s attorney, John Keker, said his client has lived a hardworking and ethical life and is innocent.
‘When the facts are known and the truth emerges, Mr. Lischewski will be found not guilty, and that vindication will rightfully restore his good name,’ Keker said in a statement.
The US government began investigating price fixing of canned tuna between StarKist, Bumble Bee Foods and Chicken of the Sea more than two years ago.
American consumers deserve free enterprise, not fixed prices
Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim
The three firms account for around 74% of the US canned tuna market, so consumers rely on competition between them to keep prices low.
The firms supply major US retailers including Walmart, Kroger and Albertsons, who collectively sued the three firms for fixing prices in 2016.
Stephen Hodge, a former senior vice president for sales at StarKist, pleaded guilty last year to price-fixing
The scandal has already reeled in three more executives, who have all pleaded guilty to price fixing, two at Bumble Food and one at StarKist. Pic: Bumble Bee tuna cans
Two other executives at Bumble Bee Foods have pleaded guilty in the price-fixing scheme, and last year the firm agreed to pay a $25 million fine after pleading guilty to price fixing.
Bumble Bee general counsel Jill Irvin has said the company hired a chief compliance officer last fall and recently reformed its guidelines and policies.
In December 2015, the Justice Department stopped Thai Union Group, which owns Chicken of the Sea, from buying Bumble Bee over competition concerns.