Monsanto fined $1.5m over Indonesia bribes
In how many other countries around the world have similar things been going on?
EXCERPTS from the Financial Times article below:
"The [bribe] was delivered by a consultant working for the company's Indonesian affiliate, but was approved by a senior Monsanto official based in the US, and disguised as consultants fees.
"The company also admitted that it had paid over $700,000 in bribes to various officials in Indonesia between 1997 and 2002, financed through improper accounting of its pesticide sales in Indonesia.
"The attempt to circumvent environmental controls on genetically-modified crops in a developing country is a significant embarrasment for Monsanto, which is engaged in an ongoing campaign to win public support in the European Union for its genetically modified crops."
Monsanto fined $1.5m over Indonesia bribes
By Jonathan Birchall in New York
Published: January 6 2005 19:48 | Last updated: January 6 2005 19:48
Monsanto, the agrochemical company, is to pay $1.5m in penalties to the US government over a bribe paid in Indonesia in a bid to bypass controls on the screening of new genetically modified cotton crops.
According to a criminal complaint by the Department of Justice on Thursday under US anti-bribery laws, the company paid $50,000 to an unamed senior Indonesian environmental official in 2002, in an unsuccesful bid to amend or repeal the requirement for the environmental impact statement for new crop varieties.
The cash payment was delivered by a consultant working for the company's Indonesian affiliate, but was approved by a senior Monsanto official based in the US, and disguised as consultants fees.
The company also admitted that it had paid over $700,000 in bribes to various officials in Indonesia between 1997 and 2002, financed through improper accounting of its pesticide sales in Indonesia.
As part of the agreement with the DoJ and the Securities and Exchange Commission, Monsanto has also pledged to appoint independent consultants to review its business practices over a three year period, when the criminal charges against it would be dropped permanently by the DoJ.
Christopher Wray, assistant US attorney general, said in a statement that the agreement required Monsanto's full cooperation and acceptance of responsibility for the wrong-doing. "Companies cannot bribe their way into favorable treatment by foreign officials," he said.
Monsanto's general counsel Charles Burson said that "Monsanto accepts full responsibility for these improper activities, and we sincerely regret that people working on behalf of Monsanto engaged in such behavior".
Monsanto said it had first become aware of financial irregularities in its Indonesian affiliates in 2001, and had begin an an internal investigation, which continued at the direction of its board of directors.
The company also said it had voluntarily notified US government officials of the results of this investigation, and had fully cooperated with the investigations by the DoJ and the Securities and Exchange Commission.
The attempt to circumvent environmental controls on genetically-modified crops in a developing country is a significant embarrasment for Monsanto, which is engaged in an ongoing campaign to win public support in the European Union for its genetically modified crops.
Monsanto settles federal probes involving Indonesian affiliates
Posted on Thu, Jan. 06, 2005
ST. LOUIS - Agribusiness giant Monsanto Co. said Thursday it has agreed to pay $1.5 million in penalties to resolve U.S. investigations of improper payments and financial irregularities related to its Indonesian affiliates.
As part of the settlement awaiting court approval, "Monsanto accepts full responsibility for these improper activities, and we sincerely regret that people working on behalf of Monsanto engaged in such behavior," said Charles Burson, general counsel for the St. Louis-based company.
Monsanto said the Justice Department investigated whether a former senior U.S.-based Monsanto manager directed an outside consultant to make a $50,000 bribe to an Indonesian government official in 2002.
The bribe, which the unidentified manager told the consultant to keep secret, was meant to influence an Indonesian official to repeal or amend an unfavorable decree. It required an environmental impact study before any authorization was granted to allow cultivation of genetically modified crops by Monsanto, Monsanto and the Justice Department said.
Despite the bribe, the official never rescinded or altered the decree.
Monsanto on Wednesday did not further identify the former Monsanto manager; the Justice Department said that person was responsible for certain activities in the Asia-Pacific region.
The manager and consultant later lied to get a reimbursement for the bribe and tried to disguise the payment as a consulting fee, the company said.
"Companies cannot bribe their way into favorable treatment by foreign officials," Christopher Wray, assistant attorney general for the criminal division, said in a statement. The settlement "will help ensure that such dishonest and illegal activity does not occur in the future."
Monsanto also said at least $700,000 in other illegal or questionable payments were made to various Indonesian government officials between 1997 and 2002. Such payments were financed, at least in part, through unauthorized, improperly documented and inflated sales of Monsanto's pesticide products in Indonesia, the company said.
During the past four years, Monsanto's net combined revenues from customers in Indonesia were less than 1 percent of the company's total revenues.
Monsanto said it learned of the irregularities in 2001 and notified the Securities and Exchange Commission and Justice Department after an internal investigation. Burson has called the alleged acts "obviously contrary to Monsanto's corporate policy."
Monsanto said it has fired employees involved in the matter - along with the questioned consultant - and restructured its Indonesian affiliates. The company said it also has tapped a new "director of business conduct," among other things.
Monsanto agrees to pay a $500,000 penalty in settling the SEC probe and pay twice that amount under its deal with the Justice Department. In both cases, Monsanto must retain for three years an independent compliance consultant to review and evaluate the company's compliance with the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
If Monsanto complies, the Justice Department will permanently drop deferred charges of violating the anti-bribery and bookkeeping provisions of the FCPA.
Burson said that dating to the launch of the government probes, Monsanto has cooperated.
Monsanto "has made clear that improper activities will not be tolerated by the company," Burson said. "We are pleased today to begin the process of putting these matters to rest."
Shares of Monsanto were up $2.07, or 4 percent, to $53.07 in afternoon trading Thursday on the New York Stock Exchange.