Price Fixing Tuna: StarKist Pleads Guilty and Faces $100 Million Fine

Price Fixing Tuna

StarKist is the latest company to plead guilty for price fixing tuna in the US.

The fish company is one of three major canned retailers accused of the crime and is now facing fines of up to $100 million USD.

The three competing companies are accused of conspiring to keep canned tuna prices artificially high between 2010 and 2013.

Price Fixing Tuna

StarKist has pleaded guilty to being a part of a “broad collusion” across the canned tuna industry. The investigation into the scandal has been ongoing since 2015.

Federal prosecutors announced the plea yesterday, making StarKist the second company to admit its wrong-doing. 

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At the same time, a former StarKist executive and two former Bumble Bee Foods executives pleaded guilty to price fixing tuna.

Last year, Bumble Bee Foods pleaded guilty to the same charge and was fined $25 million.

The third company, Chicken of the Sea, was reportedly a part of the collusion. As such, it was similarly accused of price fixing tuna but does not face the same charges as it exposed the conspiracy and co-operated with investigators. 

Altogether, the three brands control approximately 80% of the US canned tuna market.

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Walmart Suffered

Walmart (NYSE:WMT) brought the charge against the companies, and “despite changes in supply and demand that should have led to lower prices, [Walmart] continued to pay higher prices for packaged tuna products,” according to the lawsuit.

It has since settled with Chicken of the Sea.

Not Guilty

However, the issue is still ongoing for former StarKist CEO Chris Lischewski, as he pleaded not guilty to the same charges.

Lischewski was indicted for price fixing tuna earlier this year. He stepped down from his position and could face up to 10 years of jail time. He is said to have “knowingly joined and participated” in the price-fixing tuna collusion and reportedly held meetings and exchanged information on pricing data with other unnamed co-conspirators.

Featured Image: Flickr