Monsanto Employee Charged with Bribing Government Official

March 6, 2007 | Roger McEowen


The United States Securities and Exchange Commission has filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia against a Monsanto employee for alleged violations of the anti-bribery provisions of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act in connection with bribery of a foreign government official.  In early 2001, Monsanto obtained limited approval from Indonesia’s Ministry of Agriculture allowing farmers in South Sulawesi, Indonesia to grow Bollgard Cotton - a GMO crop. Later in 2001, the Ministry of the Environment pointed out that Indonesian law required an environmental impact assessment (EIA) for GMO crops.  The defendant, Monsanto’s Government Affairs Director for Asia was responsible for lobbying for Indonesian legislation that would favor Monsanto’s business interests. When lobbying to remove the EIA requirement proved unfruitful, the defendant worked through a consulting firm to “incentivize” government officials by offering cash payment of $50,000 to strike the EIA requirement. The payment was allegedly funded by the defendant instructing the consulting firm to bill Monsanto for “consulting services” which would generate the necessary funds to pay the bribe. The defendant approved the false invoices and convinced other managers to approve the payments.  The consulting firm then provided a senior Indonesian government official with $50,000 in $100 bills.  But, (and this is the kicker) - the government official took the money and never repealed the language requiring the EIA for GMO cotton. United States Securities and Exchange Commission v. Martin, No. 1:07CV00434 (D. D.C. complaint filed Mar. 6, 2007).