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Amata’s letter to AG Barr: StarKist fines should not mean a death penalty for workers of American Samoa

Cannery workers at the StarKist gate.
Source: Office of the Congresswoman

Washington, D.C. —  Congresswoman Aumua Amata believes that justice must be served in the court proceedings of StarKist, but that the people of American Samoa who rely on the cannery must be treated justly as well.

In a three-hour court hearing on June 17th, Department of Justice prosecutors asserted StarKist’s investment in TechPack Solutions, an India-based can and bottle technology firm, was worth more than the potential $100 million fine StarKist faces for playing a part in a criminal price-fixing conspiracy.

StarKist, which is pushing to have its criminal fine lowered to $50 million, claimed it is unable to sell its holding in TechPack due to loan agreements requiring the consent of its lenders. StarKist also states selling its stake would be an uneasy task.

Because of the dispute, the U.S. District Court Judge, the Honorable Edward M. Chen, postponed the hearing in which he was to determine the amount of StarKist’s fine until after an August 7 hearing on the TechPack issue. StarKist has already paid out $55 million in civil settlements. A $77 million dollar expansion of the cannery is now on hold as well pending the outcome of the case.

On January 23, 2019, Congresswoman Aumua Amata wrote a letter to Judge Chen about the issue. In the letter, she highlights the importance of the fishing industry and the cannery to the economy of American Samoa and urged the judge to take this into consideration in his decision.

Thursday, she also wrote a letter to U.S. Department of Justice Attorney General William Barr echoing the same concern.  (Click on attachment below to read letter.)

“I believe that the court and the Justice Department has and will continue to make fair and appropriate decisions regarding the price-fixing allegations. While there must be a penalty for the illegal actions, this cannot mean a death penalty to the cannery as well as the 2500 workers of American Samoa whose livelihood depends on its presence in our island.”