SAN FRANCISCO -- A federal judge in San Francisco on Wednesday ordered StarKist Co. to pay a $100 million fine in a canned tuna price-fixing conspiracy involving the industry's top three companies.
The Pittsburgh-based company was also sentenced to 13 months of probation.
The Tuna giant had asked U.S. District Court judge Edward Chen to reduce the fine to $50 million, arguing a $100 million penalty could bankrupt it because it still faces millions more in potential civil damages.
But Chen said the court found the company has the assets, the ability to borrow money to pay the fine and a legal recourse to ask for an extended payment schedule if it runs into financial trouble.
He ordered the company to pay $5 million within 30 days and $11 million next year. Starting in 2021, the company will have to make payments of $21 million each year for four years.
"The goal of this court is to err on the side of providing some relief at the frontend to Starkist because ... the next two years will be the crucial period, it seems to me," Chen said.