Lerøy Seafood, Grieg Seafood, and SalMar each received subpoenas from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) on Friday, 15 November, according to press releases from the three Norwegian salmon farming firms.
The subpoenas are part of a criminal investigation by the DOJ’s Antitrust Division into allegations of price-fixing in Norway’s farmed-raised salmon industry, according to the releases.
On Thursday, 14 November, Mowi was the first of the four Norwegian firms – also named in a similar ongoing investigation by the European Commission and a number of civil class-action lawsuits in the U.S. – to announce it had been notified by the DOJ that the agency had commenced an investigation into alleged antitrust activities, and that Mowi was a subject of that investigation.
“In connection with this investigation, Lerøy Seafood USA, inc., a company in the Lerøy Seafood Group, has today received a subpoena from the DOJ, containing certain requests for information,” Lerøy Seafood said in a press release. “Lerøy considers there to be no basis for the investigations. The same applies to the class action complaints in the U.S., which Lerøy considers to be without merit.”
Grieg Seafood Global Communications Manager Kristina Furnes confirmed to SeafoodSource her company’s U.S. subsidiary, Ocean Quality AS, is also under investigation by the DOJ.
“In light of the European Commission’s investigation into possible anti-competitive behavior in the salmon farming sector, and the class-action complaints in the U.S.A. related to the same matter, we have been informed that Ocean Quality will receive a subpoena by the Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice and that they will launch their own investigation into the matter,” she said in an email. “Grieg Seafood is not aware of any kind of practice that undermines competition in either the E.U. or the U.S. We are fully cooperating with the European Commission and will also cooperate with the U.S. Department of Justice.”
A separate filing by the company on the Oslo Børs exchange notified stockholders that another of its subsidiaries, Ocean Quality Premium Brands, Inc., had also received a DOJ subpoena.
SalMar confirmed it has also received a DOJ subpoena in its own filing with the Oslo Børs.
“SalMar considers that there are no basis for the E.U. inspection and that the class-action complaints clearly lack merit and are entirely unsubstantiated. This equally applies to any criminal investigation in the U.S.,” it said. “SalMar will fully cooperate with the Department of Justice and will provide all information as requested.”
Both Mowi and Grieg added in their press releases that they have not received any new information regarding the European Commission's own ongoing investigation.
The DOJ has not responded to multiple requests for more information made by SeafoodSource on Thursday and Friday, 14 and 15 November.
Photo courtesy of Grieg Seafood