coopers has agreed to pay $1.6 billion to settle claims by the US Department of Justice, the US Securities and Exchange Commission and other investors over the company’s failure to pay royalties for the seafood it marketed in California, Texas, Florida, New York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and Florida, according to court documents.
The settlement resolves a lawsuit filed by the Securities and Commissions Office of the Inspector General, which said coopers failed to adequately protect intellectual property rights of coopers in California and Texas, the District of Columbia and the District in the US.
Coopers seafood business was one of the largest seafood processors in the world, with sales reaching $1 billion in 2014, according in a company blog post.
Its demise follows a period of rapid growth for the company in the United States and worldwide.
Coopers Seafood was founded in 1975 by two former coopers employees.
The company was listed on the NASDAQ Stock Market on February 15, 2018, for the first time since its listing in 2005.
On January 27, 2020, the company said it would be winding down operations and closing stores by the end of 2018, and it has since closed its first two California stores.
The Securities and Comissions Office said the company paid royalties of $0.6 million for the shrimp, fish and seafood it sold in the four states in 2016.
It also paid royalties to the US government for marketing its products and marketing its seafood through distributors in the states, the SEC said in its complaint filed in a San Francisco federal court on January 27.
Coopers Seafeed Company and coopers Seafeeds, Inc., did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Cooper said in a statement on Friday that it was “shocked and saddened” to learn of the allegations.
“We were committed to our California seafood markets and will continue to work to meet our obligations to our suppliers,” the company wrote.
“We continue to be working closely with the government to develop solutions that will protect our brand and protect our investors.”
Coopers, the biggest seafood processor in the industry, has been embroiled in a number of lawsuits over its marketing practices in the past.
In September 2018, the federal government sued the company for allegedly violating a 2010 law mandating fair competition in the seafood market by charging higher prices for seafood from its markets than those of rivals.
Earlier that month, the court dismissed a lawsuit brought by two state legislators who were alleging the company had failed to properly protect intellectual properties in California.
Coppers seafood operations are owned by the coppers family of companies, which includes the largest private-equity investment firm in the U.S.
Copper is also the industry standard of quality in seafood.
The company has been accused of misleading consumers about its seafood quality by claiming its shrimp, tuna and crab are lower in mercury content than other seafood.
Since its founding, coopers was known for producing some of the world’s most prized seafood, including king crab, king crab fillets and shrimp.