US prosecutors filed a criminal charge Wednesday against the CEO of Bumble Bee Foods as part of an ongoing investigation into price fixing in the packaged seafood industry.
According to the indictment, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California on Wednesday, Lischewski conspired to fix prices for packaged seafood between 2010 and 2013. 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. The other three pleaded guilty to the charge a year ago.
Lischewski's attorney, John Keker of San Francisco-based Keker, Van Nest & Peters, said his client is innocent of the charges. "When the facts are known and the truth emerges, Mr. Lischewski will be found not guilty".
Bumble Bee itself pleaded guilty previous year to one count of pricing fixing and agreed to pay a criminal fine of $25 million.
"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.
The U.S. 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, so the department will not tolerate crimes like the one charged in today's indictment", Delrahim added.