Feds push to use Tri Marine CEO’s email as price-fixing evidence against Bumble Bee's Lischewski
San Francisco, CALIFORNIA — Renato Curto, the long-time CEO of Tri Marine, could wind up testifying at the trial of Chris Lischewski about an email he sent in 2012 which, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) alleges, implicates the long-time Bumble Bee Foods top executive in price-fixing canned tuna.
Federal prosecutors have charged Lischewski, along with senior executives from StarKist & Co and Tri-Union Seafoods, which trades as Chicken of the Sea International (COSI), with fixing canned tuna prices from November 2010 until December 2013 and are pushing to include an email from Curto to be used as evidence at the trial, set for Nov. 14 this year.
"As Curto is expected to testify at trial, the Curto email reports on an important business meeting between Tri-Marine and its customer, Bumble Bee," the DOJ wrote, in a document filed in the court docket earlier in August, seeking to justify the email's inclusion as evidence.
The Curto email -- sent to senior Tri Marine executives after a conversation with Lischewski -- allegedly “recounts an admission by defendant [Lischewski] that his sales team and the competition were “talking constantly” and have been in “good communication about how to go to market intelligently”, according to the document filed by DOJ’s legal team.
The federal prosecutors will, however, need to further convince Edward Chen, a judge in the Northern District of California, that the email should be used as evidence, according to an Aug. 28 order from Chen after a hearing the previous day. A hearing is set to take place on Sept. 4, with Chen calling for the parties required to submit more information by end of play the previous day.
Lischewski declined to comment to Undercurrent News and the DOJ, and Curto did not respond to requests for comment.