Canned tuna giant StarKist on Wednesday was ordered to pay a $ 100 million fine for its role in a price-fixing scheme for goods sold in the United States.
A federal judge in San Francisco also sentenced the company to 13 months. probation, according to a news release for the Justice Department.
"Today's result shows our commitment to aggressively enforcing antitrust laws against companies that fix prices," said Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim of the Justice Department's antitrust division. “Hard-working Americans deserve the benefits of open competition when they spend their hard-earned money on items that make kitchen shelves.
FORMER STARKIST TUNA EXEC PLEADS GUILTY TO PRICE FIXING
The bot puts an end to StarKist's involvement in DOJ investigation and solves all outstanding criminal antitrust issues, a statement said. "We will continue to operate our business with the utmost transparency and integrity."
StarKist pleaded guilty last year to false pricing as part of a conspiracy that included rival tuna companies Bumble Bee Foods and Chicken of the Sea. Federal attorneys claimed StarKist conspired with others to fix canned tuna prices from November 201
"We have partnered with the DOJ during the investigation and accept responsibility," said Andrew Choe, StarKist president and CEO.  The company, owned by South Korean company Dongwon Industries, had asked U.S. District Court Judge Edward Chen to reduce the fine to $ 50 million, arguing that the penalty could result in bankruptcy since it faces other civil damages. Chen said he found the company had assets and the ability to borrow money to pay up.
The scheme was revealed when Chicken of the Sea unsuccessfully attempted to purchase San Diego-based Bumble Bee Foods in 2015. Chicken of the Sea executives notified federal authorities and agreed to cooperate in exchange for avoiding prosecution.
Bumble Bee pleaded guilty to the same charge as StarKist in 2017 and paid a $ 25 million fine.
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Two former executives of Bumble Bee and one from StarKist have also each pleaded guilty to pricing charges. None of them are convicted.
Former Chief Executive Bumble Bee Christopher Lischewski has pleaded guilty to a pricing charge.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.