KANSAS CITY, Missouri,
March 22, 2004 -- CropChoice news -- Carey Gillam, Reuters:
U.S. authorities have widened an investigation into whether Monsanto
engaged in improper business dealings in Indonesia, the company
said on Monday.
The new issue is whether a former outside consultant to Monsanto
made an improper $50,000 payment in early 2002 to an Indonesian
government official at the direction of a former Monsanto employee,
the company said.
Both the U.S. Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange
Commission were already looking into issues involving Monsanto's
work in Indonesia.
"The DOJ has informed us that they are expanding their particular
inquiry," said Monsanto spokeswoman Lori Fisher. "These
are serious allegations and we will continue to cooperate."
She said the employee involved has left the company, but declined
to provide further details.
Potential problems in Indonesia first surfaced when the St. Louis-based
agrochemical company disclosed to regulators in November 2002 that
an internal audit and review by management had uncovered compliance
irregularities in Indonesia, where the company has been losing money
the last few years.
The company is one of the world's leading developers of genetically
modified seeds, but has had trouble getting some of its biotech
crops approved in foreign countries, including a biotech cotton
introduced in Indonesia in 2001.
Monsanto closed down the biotech cotton sales operations in 2003
after two unsuccessful years that came amid complaints over yields
Today, the company's business in Indonesia is confined to herbicide
sales and conventional corn seed sales and the country is a relatively
small contributor to overall revenue.
Net combined revenue from Indonesian customers represents only
about 0.8 percent of total corporate revenue of $5 billion, the
Monsanto shares were down 1.6 percent at $33.69 on the New York
Stock Exchange on Monday afternoon.