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Judge OKs Starkist's request to delay trial over $100 million DOJ price-fixing fine

StarKist is even contesting the terms of its fine, citing it cannot meet the DOJ's request of paying $10 million within a month of judgement and $18 million each year for the next five years, it said.

A US district judge is allowing tuna giant Starkist to submit more information related to why it is unable to pay a $100 million (€89.2 million) criminal fine in order to give the company more time to evaluate the sale of TechPack.

On Aug. 2, US District Court Judge Edward Chen approved the tuna processor's request for more time to show why it is unable to pay, delaying a sentencing hearing for Aug. 7 until Sept. 11.

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StarKist has repeatedly told the court it cannot sell TechPack and that it can only pay a fine of $50 million, and that its investment in the company is not worth $154 million as the US Department of Justice claims.

"(The) DOJ seeks to require StarKist to prove its ability to pay beyond a reasonable doubt, or at least by clear and convincing evidence. But those are not the correct standards," lawyers for Starkist told the court earlier this month.

"StarKist need only prove its inability to pay a $100 million fine by a preponderance of the evidence. And StarKist has done so."

Details pertaining to the financial issues surrounding TechPack have been so far redacted in the court filings.

The US Department of Justice responded to Chen's motion on Aug. 3 that Starkist has already "submitted over 1,000 pages of briefing and supporting documents, including supplemental briefing on whether defendant could monetize its $154 million investment in Techpack" and that Starkist "seeks to unfairly supplement the record, on an issue that has been thoroughly briefed."

Starkist CEO Andrew Choe said last October the company is committed to "being socially responsible and doing the right thing" following the DOJ announcing the tuna giant agreed to the $100-million guilty plea guilty for its role in the massive price-fixing investigation dating back to 2015.

The court has ordered both parties to meet to further determine the terms of the $100-million fine in order to ensure the company can pay restitution to retailers impacted by the price-fixing scandal.

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