UPDATE 2-Monsanto to pay $80 mln in U.S. SEC settlement over Roundup earnings

Tue Feb 9, 2016 3:39pm EST
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(Updates with a comment from Monsanto, more background)

By Sarah N. Lynch

WASHINGTON Feb 9 (Reuters) - Monsanto Co will pay $80 million to settle civil accounting violations after it allegedly misstated its earnings in connection with its top-selling Roundup product, U.S. securities regulators said on Tuesday.

The Securities and Exchange Commission also said that three accounting and sales executives have also agreed to settle charges in connection with the case.

The SEC's case against Monsanto revolves around a corporate rebate program designed to boost sales of Roundup, a popular weed killer. The rebate program was created to combat rising generic competition which threatened to cut into the company's profits.

The agency said that Monsanto had insufficient internal controls to account for millions of dollars in rebates that it offered to retailers and distributors. It ultimately booked a sizeable amount of revenue, but then failed to recognize the costs of the rebate programs on its books.

That led the St. Louis-based agriculture company to "materially" misstate its consolidated earnings for a three-year period.

In a statement, the company said it fully reserved funds to pay for the penalty in fiscal year 2015.

Monsanto added that it is not required to change any of its historical statements because the company already previously in 2011 restated its financial statements for fiscal year 2009 through the third quarter of fiscal year 2011.   Continued...