Chris Lischewski president and chief executive officer of Bumble Bee Seafoods in his office overlooking Petco Park
17 May, 2018, 16:29
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.
Lischewski's lawyer, John Keker of San Francisco, disputed the accusation.
The San Diego-based company also agreed to cooperate with the Antitrust Division's ongoing investigation involving packaged seafood.
Bumble Bee, based in San Diego, pleaded guilty past year to a criminal charge of conspiring to fix tuna prices.
'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.
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The market for canned tuna across the USA has been dominated for a long time by just three companies. Both parties, as well as a Cayman Islands-registered holding company, Big Catch, which directly owns Bumble Bee, could possibly have to pay millions in damages if civil suits from tuna buyers are successful.
The one-count felony indictment charges that Lischewski carried out the conspiracy by agreeing to fix the prices during meetings and other communications. The largest is Chicken of the Sea owned by the Thai Union Group, while the second largest is Bumble Bee and then StarKist.
Stephen Hodge, who previously was an executive with StarKist, the tuna producer, was charged as well during May of 2017 with participating in the conspiracy to fix prices for canned tuna between 2011 and 2013.
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