WASHINGTON, Dec 7 (Reuters) - A top sales executive of a canned tuna company, Walter Scott Cameron, has agreed to plead guilty to conspiring to fix the price of tuna, the Justice Department said on Wednesday.
The department did not name the company that Cameron works for but a separate, private lawsuit filed in the matter identifies him as working for Bumble Bee..
Cameron and other, unnamed conspirators agreed to fix the price of tuna sold to consumers in the United States from 2011 to 2013, the department said. Cameron agreed to pay a fine and to cooperate with the probe.
Bumble Bee said in a statement that it was cooperating with the Justice Department, and had put Cameron on paid leave.
“The Company is hopeful that it can reach a resolution with DOJ (Justice Department) on this matter, as it relates to the company, in early 2017,” said Jill Irvin, Bumble Bee’s general counsel.
Cameron declined to comment.
The canned tuna market in the United States has long been dominated by three brands, Thai Union’s Chicken of the Sea, Bumble Bee and Starkist.
About a year ago, the U.S. Justice Department told Thai Union Group Pcl, the world’s largest canned tuna producer and owner of Chicken of the Sea, that it would file a lawsuit to stop its acquisition of U.S. rival Bumble Bee. (Reporting by Diane Bartz; Editing by Frances Kerry)