The second-largest award granted under the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) whistleblower program went to a former executive with Monsanto Corporation in late August, 2016. An $80 million settlement over accounting improprieties by Monsanto occurred in February, 2016.
The accounting charges arose from allegations that Monsanto misstated earnings from the sale of its Roundup weed killer product. The qui tam case brought by the whistleblower and joined by the SEC involved a rebate program meant to boost sales. It is alleged that inadequate internal accounting controls were in place concerning the millions of dollars in rebates that the company presented to distributors and retailers. Although Monsanto booked a significant amount of revenue from the rebate program, the company did not include the program’s costs on the books. As a result, the consolidated earnings for one three-year period were misstated too high.
The SEC did not make public the enforcement action that led to the settlement, nor did it reveal the identity of the whistleblower, who received more than $22 million based on the $80 million settlement. Awards normally amount to between 10 and 30 percent of the settlement total when the sanctions exceed $1 million. In the Monsanto case, the award was on the high end—more than 28 percent.
Payments to SEC whistleblowers come from a fund established by Congress that is bankrolled through the monetary sanctions the agency receives from securities law violators and alleged violators. No money is ever taken from investors who have suffered losses to pay the whistleblower awards.
In a statement, the Acting Chief of the SEC’s Office of the Whistleblower, Jane Norberg, said, “Company employees are in unique positions behind-the-scenes to unravel complex or deeply buried wrongdoing. Without this whistleblower’s courage, information, and assistance, it would have been extremely difficult for law enforcement to discover this securities fraud on its own.”
The SEC’s program, which was launched in 2011, has now awarded $107 million to whistleblowers. The largest award, $30 million, was given out in 2014. The August award follows on the heels of a $17 million payout to a whistleblower in June, 2016.
Monsanto has neither admitted nor denied the charges connected with the settlement.
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If you think you have the facts needed to bring a whistleblower case, the experienced whistleblower attorneys at the Louthian Law Firm can review your case and help you file the appropriate disclosure statement. Under some circumstances, the government will intervene, or join in your lawsuit.
Your chances of succeeding are greater if your whistleblower claim is substantive, clear, and to the point. Because of this, meeting with a qualified whistleblower attorney can increase your chances of winning. The Louthian Law Firm can help you form your claim so that the government will be more inclined to intervene in your case; government intervention can sometimes increase the chances of recovering reward money. Even if the government decides not to intervene, it could still be a good idea to pursue your case without government involvement. Our strong support system can assist you through every step of the process.
For a free, confidential evaluation of your case, call the Louthian Law Firm today at 1-803-454-1200 or, if you prefer, you can fill out our online contact form.