WASHINGTON — Seafood processor StarKist, Pittsburgh, a business unit of the Dongwon Group, South Korea, has entered into an agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice to plead guilty to one count of price fixing packaged seafood sold in the United States between November 2011 and December 2013. The company faces a fine of up to $100 million.
“The conspiracy to fix prices on these household staples had direct effects on the pocketbooks of American consumers,” said Makan Delrahim, assistant attorney general in the D.O.J.’s Antitrust Division. “All Americans have the right to the benefits of free and open competition — the best goods and services at a price free from collusion. We will continue to hold companies and individuals who cheat consumers accountable.”
Andrew Choe, president and chief executive officer of StarKist, said, “We have cooperated with the D.O.J. during the course of its investigation and accept responsibility. We will continue to conduct our business with the utmost transparency and integrity. While this process is long term in nature, we have addressed the necessary actions required in this plea agreement, including continuing to strengthen related compliance best practices.”
StarKist is the second seafood processor to plead guilty of price fixing. In 2017, Bumble Bee Foods L.L.C., San Diego, pled guilty for its role in the scheme. The company also agreed to pay a criminal fine of $25 million.
This past May, Christopher Lischewski, then the president and c.e.o. of Bumble Bee, was indicted for conspiracy to fix prices. He later stepped down from his position.