Packaged seafood company exec charged in price-fixing probe

AP News
Posted: Dec 07, 2016 4:16 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) — An executive at a packaged seafood company has agreed to plead guilty in a price-fixing conspiracy, federal prosecutors said Wednesday.

The criminal charge against Walter Scott Cameron is the first in what the Justice Department say is an ongoing investigation into efforts to fix prices of packaged seafood, such as canned tuna.

Prosecutors accuse Cameron, a senior vice president of sales at a seafood packaging company, of agreeing with co-conspirators to fix, raise and maintain the prices of their products.

The company was not identified in court filings, but a person familiar with the investigation identified it as Bumble Bee Foods. The person was not authorized to discuss the matter by name and spoke on condition of anonymity. Prosecutors said the company was located in San Diego, which is where Bumble Bee is based.

The Justice Department was filing a one-count criminal information in federal court in San Francisco, signaling Cameron's intent to plead guilty and to cooperate with the probe.

The government said Cameron had met with representatives from other seafood companies to discuss a price-fixing scheme, and to negotiate prices and issue price announcements.

"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," Renata Hesse, head of the Justice Department's antitrust division, said in a statement. "All consumers deserve competitive prices for these important kitchen staples, and companies and executives who cheat those consumers will be held criminally accountable."

There was no immediate response to a telephone message or email sent to Cameron.