May 17, 2018, 12:51 AM ET

Bumble Bee Foods CEO indicted for price fixing

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The chief executive officer of Bumble Bee Foods has been indicted on one count of price fixing as part of an ongoing investigation that includes at least three other current or former executives at packaged-seafood producers.

A San Francisco grand jury has charged that Christopher Lischewski conspired with others in his industry from November 2010 to December 2013 to eliminate competition and set prices for canned tuna, the U.S. Department of Justice said in a statement Wednesday.

The government began investigating Bumble Bee Foods, Starkist and Chicken of the Sea more than two years ago, according to the Associated Press. Stephen Hodge, a former executive at StarKist, pleaded guilty to price fixing last year. Two other Bumble Bee executives also have pleaded guilty.

"The Antitrust Division is committed to prosecuting senior executives who unjustly profit at the expense of their customers," Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim of the Justice Department's Antitrust Division said in the statement. "American consumers deserve free enterprise, not fixed prices, so the Department will not tolerate crimes like the one charged in today’s indictment."

John Keker, Lischewski's attorney, told the AP his client is innocent and that he will be vindicated.

Bumble Bee, according to the DOJ, already has pleaded guilty and agreed to pay a fine of $25 million.

In this 2008 file photo, Bumble Bee Foods President and CEO Christopher Lischewski testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington. U.S. prosecutors have filed a criminal charge in San Francisco against Lischewski as part of an investigation into price fixing.AP
In this 2008 file photo, Bumble Bee Foods President and CEO Christopher Lischewski testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington. U.S. prosecutors have filed a criminal charge in San Francisco against Lischewski as part of an investigation into price fixing.

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  • nosake

    Always found the brand inferior anyway

  • Joe Menn

    I don't know if anyone else noticed a marked spike in canned tuna prices a few years ago, but it was pretty evident at Costco, when a package of 6 cans jumped to $16 and the can sizes reduced. Sysco Corp., the huge food supplier for schools, hospitals and restaurants caught onto this when they saw the price spike in spite of reduced demand for canned and pouched tuna. They sued all 3 tuna companies for price fixing. Tuna is a commodity item. It's found in almost every cupboard in America. It one company raises its prices, consumers simply buy a cheaper brand. So, the 3 big tuna companies, which supply 80% of the tuna market, conspired to fix prices and eliminate competition.

  • Realpshep

    sorry charlie.....(rim shot)

  • Renate

    Hershey was guilty of that with Canada a few years ago too. Greedy corporations.

  • poultrygeist

    You can tune a piano but you can't tuna fish.

  • ha

    a greedy capitalist rigging the system? Say it isn't so!

  • Eternal Tech

    If found guilty, the CEO, and not just the corporation, should be punished. The CEO should be compelled to pay a massive fine out of his own pocket and be sent to federal prison.

    Holding a company, by itself, fully responsible does not deter illegal behavior. The individuals who chose to do wrong should not be permitted to hide behind the skirts of a corporation, but should be held individually accountable for their actions.

  • Thomas

    Tuna fish executive ends up in the Can........

  • DuelingDogmas

    Will they play 'Flight of the Bumble-Bee' as he does the perp walk?

  • Rubber Banned

    He and Trump seem to share the same corporate philosophy and hair strategy.

  • Ruspert

    Good work, now go after some of the others like the petroleum and pharmaceutical industries.

  • center_line

    So the company was fined $25 million.That money went to lawyers and the government.
    What about the customers that got the short end?
    AND that money that went to the government went to a couple of rounds of golf for Trump.
    Ludicrous stuff right there.

  • J.J

    Who would think tuna fish pricing is worth going to prison? But OK, he/they did it. A few years in the fish tank is what they deserve now.

  • Captain Shark

    Get a haircuit, hippie!

  • Alex

    "nice to meet you, Bumble Bee tuna!"

  • Blue Wave

    Wasn't Bumble Bee tuna the name of that fictional product from the movie Mr. Mom?

  • brian nrndss

    I knew I paid too much

  • Pro-Marx

    I think he's gill-ty.

  • Cody Coonts

    So Cell Phone companies can artificially increase the cost of phones and merge to form mega corporations and it is okay. Big Pharma can do the same here while making it illegal to order the life saving drugs from other countries all for profit and it is okay? When is the government going to go after these two industries? Oh better lobbyist.

  • Lurker111

    Bet that stung.

  • William H Bockemuehl

    And yet gas stations don't price fix, they just look at what the other guy is charging and charge that. Not price fixing because they don't talk about it.

  • PaulCrozer

    But so many new jobs were created from our higher profits......not.

  • wilkinak

    Is this the "Bumblebee Effect" that I heard on an advertisement the other day?

  • KEITH Nobody

    The amount of greed in our society truly is stunning.

    I saw a guy get busted for stealing a bike, and his excuse was, "Hey, it wasn't locked," as though that gave him implicit permission to take the bike as his.

    Hey, it wasn't locked.

    Too much.

  • Lee-Anne Griffin

    I just knew something smelled fishy about those prices.

  • Tertulliano

    I like canned tuna and canned sardines. when you grow up in a family that can barely feed multiple children, these sources of protein become a delicacy.

  • WorkingClass

    I always thought there was something fishy about that industry. Those CEO's will be singing a different tuna now!

  • USAF Retired

    Why do companies feel the need to eliminate the competition? There is plenty of room for all.

  • Bud Simpson

    Tuna price fixing? Hey, what about the oil companies, or are they too big for you guys?

  • mack johnson

    if they want to price fix then they should do what the drug companies do and just pay off congress.

  • subtext9

    Jessica Simpson, what's inside a can of Bumble Bee?

  • Timulculin

    I'm not 100% sure why price fixing should be illegal. I mean it's all supply and demand. Nobody is forced to buy it.

  • arlecchino

    I didn't know can fish was that expensive, LOL I guess it should be even cheaper.

  • ruelph

    Really tuna, this is an item that is always on sale