by Christina Sarich | Staff Waking Times
Monsanto $79 million SEC fraud case due to an internal whistleblower who could earn 2nd largest award in history.
If you are an accountant for Monsanto, you could make a significant paycheck by helping to expose fraud. An unidentified, internal employee of Monsanto blew the lid off the company’s recent fraudulent earnings reporting, and divulged their practices to the US Securities and Exchange Commission. Of the $79 million the SEC will collect from Monsanto as part of a settlement, the whistleblower stands to earn a handsome portion of that money for helping to expose the company’s deceit.
Stuart D. Meissner, whose Nyack, N.Y., firm Meissner Associates represented the unidentified whistleblower, states that the person stands to collect between 10 to 30 percent of the penalty.
Meissner told Accounting Today:
“If you meet the criteria and comply with the rules, the whistleblower can obtain an award of anywhere from 10 to 30 percent of whatever funds the SEC collects, assuming it’s more than $1 million, which obviously this would be.”
In order to collect the reward for exposing Monsanto the whistleblower has to follow several steps, which should be heeded by others who may want to become whistleblowers themselves. Meissner explained:
“First you have to be approved after they give a notice of eligible action, which probably will be put up fairly soon. Part of the requirement is that the SEC actually has to collect the money from the company and the people, and that has to be over $1 million. With Monsanto, I’m sure that’s not going to be an issue as far as collection goes. Once that notice is out, anyone who claims to be the whistleblower has to submit a claim form within 90 days. Once that is done—and there could be other whistleblowers, although we’re not aware of any—when the SEC determines whether the whistleblower meets the criteria and complied with the rules, if they determine how much assistance and cooperation they believe the whistleblower provided and determine what within the range of 10 to 30 percent they should receive, then the whistleblower has a right to appeal or object to that, depending on the determination.”
The whistleblower claim, which was filed around 2011, was one of the first filed after the program was ushered in by the Dodd-Frank Act. Dodd-frank imposes major regulations on the financial industry.
Meissner explains that the unnamed whistleblower could earn 30 percent of the total award. He says:
“. . .I don’t see any reason why not, based on his complete cooperation—it would be the second largest whistleblower award in history of the program, as of now.”
The first largest award went to former UBS banker Bradley Birkenfeld under the IRS’s separate whistleblower program. He received $104 million from the IRS.
Still, the Monsanto whistleblower could potentially collect up to $24 million. Meissner declined to say if the whistleblower was an accountant for Monsanto, but he confirmed it was a Monsanto employee.
Monsanto has not commented on the whistleblower nor the SEC determination.
Meissner noted the SEC has a 120-day rule under which an internal compliance employee, or an audit committee employee type of whistleblower, must wait until 120 days after reporting the complaint internally before going to the SEC if no proper action is taken, in order to give the company time to investigate and take action on its own.
However, the Monsanto whistleblower filed his complaint before the SEC had finalized regulations, so his complaint will possibly be “grandfathered in” and only be subject to the requirements spelled out in the Dodd-Frank Act. The whistleblower did report his complaint internally, according to Meissner, but he isn’t sure if the 120-day period detailed in the final regulations was adhered to.
“In most cases, whistleblowers do bring it up internally,” said Meissner. “Then they go to the SEC when they don’t get a proper response. Most people aren’t looking to rush out and get an award. They are looking to do the right thing and they get frustrated when the company doesn’t respond properly. That’s when they go outside.”
The Dodd-Frank Act has created great opportunities for accountants at thousands of public companies to uncover wrongdoing to protect investors and obtain ample compensation at the same time. The Act could possibly ensure that corporations do the right thing and carefully consider concerns related to financial reporting raised by accountants. Monsanto stands as a prime example.
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About the Author: Christina Sarich is a writer, musician, yogi, and humanitarian with an expansive repertoire. Her thousands of articles can be found all over the Internet, and her insights also appear in magazines as diverse as Weston A. Price, Nexus, Atlantis Rising, and the Cuyamungue Institute, among others. She was recently a featured author in the Journal, “Wise Traditions in Food, Farming, and Healing Arts,” and her commentary on healing, ascension, and human potential inform a large body of the alternative news lexicon. She has been invited to appear on numerous radio shows, including Health Conspiracy Radio, Dr. Gregory Smith’s Show, and dozens more. The second edition of her book, Pharma Sutra, will be released soon.
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