A federal judge ordered StarKist Tuna to pay a $100M fine for antitrust violations. The company participated in a two-year price-fixing scam with other tuna producers to artificially inflate canned tuna prices.
StarKist was the last of three companies to plead guilty in the scam. The company had sought to lower the fine to $50M, saying that a $100M fine could bankrupt it. The judge declined the request, noting the company’s assets and its ability to borrow money. The company can also seek an extended payment schedule on the fine. The current payment schedule calls on the company to pay $16M before the end of 2020. Between 2021 and 2024, the company will pay $21M per year in fines.
A failed attempt to buy Bumble Bee (a StarKist competitor) by Thai Union Group revealed the scam in 2015. Thai Union Group owns Chicken of the Sea, a participant in the scam. Chicken of the Sea agreed to cooperate with federal investigators in exchange for avoiding prosecution. Bumble Bee Foods pleaded guilty in 2017 and paid a $25M fine. Prosecutors in that case wanted a $136M fine against Bumble Bee Foods. They chose to seek a lower amount because a high fine would have bankrupted the company. The three companies are also facing civil lawsuits related to the scam from retailers like Walmart, Target and Kroger. The retailers claim that the price fixing scheme artificially inflated the price of tuna, and damaged their sales. The retailers have already settled similar claims against Chicken of the Sea and Bumble Bee.
Federal Criminal Antitrust Attorney
When you face charges of criminal anticompetitive practices, hire an experienced antitrust attorney like Robert Helfend. Mr. Helfend has 35 years of experience as a federal criminal defense attorney. He takes cases in any US District Court. He also takes state-level cases in Los Angeles County and throughout Southern California.
Anticompetitive practices like price fixing, bid rigging and market allocation can lead to both criminal and civil complaints. When you face criminal charges, it’s essential to work with an experienced, aggressive attorney. Federal prosecutors are aggressive, so you need to fight back with an attorney who will stand up for you.
Don’t settle for inexperience when your freedom is at stake. Contact Robert Helfend or call toll-free at (800) 834-6434, (310) 456-3317, (818) 591-2809 or (805) 273-5611 for an immediate consultation on your Los Angeles County antitrust case.
Photo Credit: Rusty Clark ~100K Photos, via Flickr.com