Tyson cooperating in DOJ broiler antitrust investigation
By Susan Kelly on 6/11/2020
Tyson Foods on Wednesday said it has been cooperating with the U.S Justice Department in its investigation into price fixing of broiler chickens as part of an application for corporate leniency.
A grand jury in Denver last week indicted four current and former poultry company executives, including Pilgrim’s Pride Chief Executive Jayson Penn, on charges of conspiring to fix prices and rig bids for broiler chickens from 2012 to 2017.
In a statement Thursday, Tyson said it was served a grand jury subpoena on April 26 from the DOJ’s antitrust division concerning a criminal antitrust investigation into the broiler chicken industry. The company said it uncovered information in connection with that investigation that it reported to the DOJ and took "appropriate actions to address the internal issues."
The company’s cooperation with the DOJ is part of an application for leniency under the agency’s Corporate Leniency Program, Tyson said.
"A formal grant of leniency will mean that neither the company nor any of its employees will face criminal fines, jail time or prosecution," the company said in its statement. “Tyson Foods is committed to competing vigorously, honestly and in compliance with the letter and the spirit of the antitrust laws and respects the important role that the Department of Justice plays in enforcing these laws."
Three of the four poultry executives who were indicted last week pleaded not guilty; the fourth asked for a continuance to hire new counsel, according to documents filed in the case.
Penn, former Pilgrim’s executive Roger Austin, and Claxton Poultry Vice President Scott Brady pleaded not guilty in U.S. District Court in Colorado and were released on their own recognizance. Claxton Poultry President Mikell Fries requested a continuance on the proceeding to have time to retain new counsel and also was released on his own recognizance.
Pilgrim’s has said it will fully cooperate with the DOJ in its investigation.
Claxton Poultry has called the allegations against the company "without merit" and said it intends to vigorously defend itself and its good name as the process moves forward.