WASHINGTON, D.C. (KTVI) – Monsanto Company has agreed to pay an $80 million fine to settle charges from the Securities and Exchange Commission that the agribusiness giant misstated company earnings tied to a Roundup rebate offer over a three-year period.
According to SEC investigators, Monsanto in 2009 offered retailers an opportunity to participate in a rebate program in order to counteract competition from generic brands of weed killer, which was cutting into Monsanto’s market share.
Monsanto booked itself large amounts of revenue in 2009, 2010, and 2011, but did not publicly account for all costs tied to the rebate in order to satisfy stockholders.
In addition to the company fine, three Monsanto accounting and sales executives have agreed to pay penalties to settle individual charges against them. Accounting executives Anthony Hartke and Sara Brunnquell developed and approved talking points for the Monsanto sales force when pitching retailers on the rebate program. The SEC found that both Hartke and Brunnquell, certified public accountants, either knew or should have known that Monsanto was improperly documenting costs tied to the program.
Brunnquell and Hartke will pay fines of $55,000 and $30,000, respectively, and have agreed to be suspended from practicing as accountants in front of the SEC.
Sale executive Jonathan Nienas agreed to pay a fine of $50,000.