Tyson Foods Says It Is Cooperating in Federal Price-Fixing Probe

“Tyson took appropriate actions to address the internal issues and has been fully cooperating with the DOJ as part of its application for leniency under the DOJ’s Corporate Leniency Program. A formal grant of leniency will mean that neither the company nor any of its employees will face criminal fines, jail time or prosecution.

“Our swift and decisive actions demonstrate our steadfast commitment to treating suppliers, customers and partners with integrity and to fostering a free and fair competitive environment that not only benefits consumers but makes Tyson Foods better.”

The Wall Street Journal reported Tyson’s participation in the leniency program earlier Wednesday. 

The statement comes a week after the CEO of Pilgrim’s Pride and three other current and former chicken company executives were indicted by a federal grand jury in Colorado on charges of price-fixing.

The grand jury found that executives from Pilgrim’s Pride of Greeley, Colorado, and Claxton Poultry Farms of Claxton, Georgia, conspired to fix prices and rig bids for broiler chickens from at least 2012 to 2017. 

More: See the indictment here.

Pilgrim’s Pride President and CEO Jayson Penn was charged, along with former Pilgrim’s Pride Vice President Roger Austin. Claxton Poultry President Mikell Fries and Vice President Scott Brady also were charged. All four pleaded not guilty.

According to prosecutors, the men communicated about their prices and negotiated to fix, stabilize and raise prices. The indictment cites a number of alleged phone calls and text exchanges between them. 

On Wednesday, Tyson Foods CEO Noel White said the behavior described in the indictment does not reflect his company’s values. 

“I am proud to lead a company that took appropriate and immediate action in reporting the wrongdoing we discovered to the Department of Justice,” he said.

Under the Justice Department’s leniency program, companies and individuals can avoid criminal prosecution, fines and prison by being first to confess participation in an antitrust conspiracy and fully cooperate.

“Corporations and individuals who report their cartel activity and cooperate in the Division’s investigation of the cartel reported can avoid criminal conviction, fines, and prison sentences if they meet the requirements of the program,” the DOJ says on its website.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)