When you’re chowing down on your tuna salad sandwich, just know that you could be supporting a federal felon. Bumble Bee — the major canned seafood brand — pleaded guilty to an elaborate price-fixing scheme and has been ordered to pay $25 million in criminal fees, according to CNN Money.
According to court records, Bumble Bee, along with their co-conspirators "agreed to fix the prices of shelf-stable tuna fish" from 2011 to 2013. In December 2016, Bumble Bee's senior vice president of sales and senior vice president of trade marketing admitted the company's guilt in the illegal scheme, and both remain on paid leave.
"We accept full responsibility for needing to earn back any lost trust in our Company and will do so by acting with integrity and transparency in every way we operate our business," Bumble Bee General Counsel Jill Irvin said in a press statement.
Federal officials have not divulged how much Bumble Bee overcharged its customers.
Acting Assistant Attorney General Andrew Finch of the Justice Department's Antitrust Division confirmed that this is the third lawsuit to be filed as a result of investigations into price-fixing within the industry.
Limited competition in the canned seafood sphere has been an ongoing industry problem. In 2015, Chicken of the Sea almost merged with Bumble Bee, but the deal was canceled after federal regulators warned that it would inhibit competition.