Keker Reps Indicted Bumble Bee Exec, Insists He's Innocent

The scandal has already reeled in three more executives who have all pleaded guilty to price fixing two at Bumble Food and one at StarKist. Pic Bumble Bee tuna cans

A federal grand jury has indicted the CEO and president of Bumble Bee Foods in California this week on charges that he conspired to fix the prices of packaged seafood that was sold in US, said the Department of Justice on Wednesday.

Reuters reported that Lischewski's attorney, John Keker, said he was innocent.

"We are disappointed by the [Department of Justice's] decision to charge him with criminal conduct", Keker added.

CEO Christopher Lischewski has become the fourth person charged in this federal probe into price fixing and was indicted in the Northern District of California U.S. District Court in San Francisco.

Lischewski could face up to 10 years in prison and more than $1 million dollars in fines if he is found guilty.

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'American consumers deserve free enterprise, not fixed prices, so the department will not tolerate crimes like the one charged in today's indictment, ' said Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim.

Court documents show that Bumble Bee has already pleaded guilty and been sentenced to pay a criminal fine of at least United States dollars 25 million as a result of the government's ongoing investigation.

Late in 2016, senior vice-president of trade marketing Kenneth Worsham became the second Bumble Bee executive to plead guilty for his role in the canned tuna pricing conspiracy, joining senior vice-president of sales Walter Scott Cameron.

The civil class action lawsuit filings began in 2015 with a class-action suit filing from New York-based food distributor Olean Wholesale Grocery Cooperative, which came after the DOJ began its investigation into the price fixing as part of its antitrust review for Thai Union's attempt to acquire Bumble Bee.

The indictment, returned by a grand jury in San Francisco, claims that Lischewski conspired with others in the industry, from November 2010 to December 2013, to set prices for canned tuna. Two of its executives have also pleaded guilty. Nine current or former Bumble Bee executives, including Lischewski, are on one such list.

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