WASHINGTON – Christopher Lischewski, the former chief executive officer of Bumble Bee Foods LLC, was sentenced to 40 months in prison and to pay a $100,000 fine for his role in price fixing canned tuna. The scheme involved Mr. Lischewski, Bumble Bee and StarKist Co., spanned three years, from 2011 to 2013, and affected over $600 million in canned tuna sales, according to the US Department of Justice.
“The sentence imposed today will serve as a significant deterrent in the C-suite and the boardroom,” said Makan Delrahim, assistant attorney general of the DOJ Antitrust Division. “Executives who cheat American consumers out of the benefits of competition will be brought to justice, particularly when their antitrust crimes affect the most basic necessity, food. Today’s sentence reflects the serious harm that resulted from the multi-year conspiracy to fix prices of canned tuna.”
Mr. Lischewski was charged in May 2018 and found guilty of a single count of participating in a conspiracy to fix prices in canned tuna after a four-week trial. Three other executives were charged in the investigation. All three pleaded guilty and testified in Mr. Lischewski’s trial.
Bumble Bee pleaded guilty and was sentenced to pay a $25 million criminal fine. In November 2019, the company declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy, citing the debt burden from the fine and subsequent class action lawsuits from retailers, distributors and consumers. The company was acquired earlier this year by F.C.F. Co., Ltd., a Taiwanese seafood processor.
StarKist was ordered to pay a $100 million criminal fine in September 2019.