First Charges Brought in Investigation of Collusion in the Packaged Seafood Industry
Senior Vice President Agrees to Plead Guilty to Price-Fixing Conspiracy
The current senior vice president of sales of a leading packaged seafood company has agreed to plead guilty for his role in a conspiracy to fix the prices of packaged seafood such as canned tuna sold in the United States, the Department of Justice announced.
According to a one-count felony charge filed today in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in San Francisco, Walter Scott Cameron and his co-conspirators agreed to fix the prices of packaged seafood from as early as 2011 until about 2013. In addition to his guilty plea, which is subject to court approval, Cameron has agreed to pay a criminal fine and cooperate with the division’s ongoing investigation.
“Today’s charge is the first to be filed in the Antitrust Division’s ongoing investigation into price fixing among some of the largest suppliers of canned tuna and other packaged seafood,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Renata Hesse of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division. “All consumers deserve competitive prices for these important kitchen staples, and companies and executives who cheat those consumers will be held criminally accountable.”
“FBI San Francisco Division echoes the comments of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division,” said Special Agent in Charge John F. Bennett of the FBI’s San Francisco Division. “These charges demonstrate our continued commitment to investigate and pursue those individuals and companies seeking to victimize consumers through illegal business practices that threaten our community’s ability to pay fair prices for food for their families.”
According to the charge, Cameron and his co-conspirators discussed the prices of packaged seafood sold in the United States and agreed to fix the prices of those products. The defendant and his co-conspirators negotiated prices and issued price announcements for packaged seafood in accordance with the agreements they reached.
Today’s charge is the first to result from an ongoing federal antitrust investigation into the packaged seafood industry, which is being conducted by the Antitrust Division’s San Francisco Office and the FBI’s San Francisco Field Office. Anyone with information on price fixing, bid rigging or other anticompetitive conduct related to the packaged seafood industry should contact the Antitrust Division’s Citizen Complaint Center at (888) 647-3258, visit www.justice.gov/atr/contact/newcase.html, or call the FBI tip line at (415) 553-7400.