A former Monsanto Co. financial executive who told regulators about the agribusiness giant’s accounting practices involving rebates for its Roundup weed-killer will receive almost $22.5 million as a whistleblower. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) says the fee comes out of the $80 million penalty the St. Louis-based company agreed to pay under a February settlement with the agency. This fee award is the second-biggest the SEC has given a whistleblower since a $30 million fee paid in 2014.
The February agreement by Monsanto settled claims that the company misstated its earnings by not properly accounting for millions of dollars paid to distributors as Roundup rebates, which had the effect of distorting the company’s earnings reports for 2009, 2010 and 2011. Monsanto agreed to hire a consultant to review the company’s financial reporting procedures for rebates.
The latest award brings the total issued to whistleblowers under the SEC’s program to more than $100 million, the agency said. Thirty-three whistleblowers have received awards; the largest, issued in 2014, was $30 million. The SEC said the whistleblower office has received more than 14,000 tips from all 50 U.S. states and 95 foreign countries since its launch, and the tips have led to more than $500 million in penalties.
Calling the program a “game changer” for the agency, SEC Chair Mary Jo White said tips to the whistleblower office are “providing a source of valuable information” to help the SEC with its mission. The program, developed under the Dodd-Frank Act, gives 10 to 30 percent of a penalty for a securities violation if that penalty exceeds $1 million.
Source: Jim Suhr, AP Business Writer
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