You may have paid more than necessary for canned fish at some point in the last few years. Bumble Bee has agreed to plead guilty for its involvement in fixing shelf-stable tuna fish, the Department of Justice said in a statement on Monday.
Bumble Bee conspired with other companies to "fix, raise, and maintain prices of packaged seafood," the DoJ alleged in its charge. The DoJ said the price-fixing took place from around the first quarter of 2011 through at least the fourth quarter of 2013. It was unaware of the exact timing.
Bumble Bee has agreed to pay a $25 million criminal fine that could be increased to as much as $81.5 million if the company is sold, subject to some terms and conditions.
Andrew Finch, the acting assistant attorney general in the DOJ's antitrust division, said the charge is the third to be filed in an ongoing investigation into price fixing among the largest suppliers of packaged seafood.
This comes after a former Bumble Bee executive was placed on special leave after court documents showed he had agreed to fix packaged-seafood prices. Walter Scott Cameron, the former senior vice president of sales, talked to representatives of other major packaged seafood producers about fixing prices, CNN reported.
Bumble Bee did not immediately respond to a request for comment.