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.
The Department of Justice alleged Lischewski and others conspired to issue price announcements and guidance to fix, raise and maintain the price of tuna from 2011 through 2013.
Lischewski's lawyer, John Keker of San Francisco, disputed the accusation. "And most significantly on this dark day, he is innocent of any wrongdoing".
"We are disappointed by the [Department of Justice's] decision to charge him with criminal conduct", Keker added.
'When the facts are known and the truth emerges, Mr. Lischewski will be found not guilty, and that vindication will rightfully restore his good name, ' Keker said in a statement.
'American consumers deserve free enterprise, not fixed prices. Thai Union's Chicken of the Sea is the largest, followed by Bumble Bee and StarKist. Both parties, as well as a Cayman Islands-registered holding company, Big Catch, which directly owns Bumble Bee, could possibly have to pay millions in damages if civil suits from tuna buyers are successful.
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. A private class-action lawsuit has accused Bumble Bee, Starkist and Tri Union Seafoods, also known as Chicken of the Sea, of conspiring to fix US tuna prices.
Two other executives at Bumble Bee Foods have pleaded guilty in the price-fixing scheme, and past year the firm agreed to pay a $25 million fine after pleading guilty to price fixing.
The scandal has already reeled in three more executives, who have all pleaded guilty to price fixing, two at Bumble Food and one at rival firm StarKist.