(UR) Washington, D.C. — In the fallout of Monsanto’s February decision to pay $80 million for “civil accounts violation,” the unnamed whistleblower who brought the allegations to the attention of the SEC (U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission) is set to receive a reward to the tune of $22 million. While this is the second highest award issued by the SEC, the Securities and Exchange Commission sees payments like these as being a powerful motivator when it comes to whistleblowers deciding whether they should come forward.
Despite the terms of the settlement being that Monsanto is not legally found guilty of any wrong doing being a telling indictment of the SEC and the securities system, there is a deeper issue that reports of massive payouts simply do not address.
As a body, and as its name implies, the SEC regulates securities and issues related to stocks and other market issues. Allegations brought against Monsanto by the SEC, therefore, have no bearing on the health or environmental impact of the chemical giant’s products. Nor do these allegations bear any potential for added laws or increased regulations on organizations that employ “creative accounting.”
That there existed enough evidence from the unnamed whistleblower to begin an investigation is, if anything, positive in that the SEC was forced not to ignore them. What regulatory authority given to the SEC has no system-changing ability other than the redistribution of wealth (Alexander Styhre, Management and Neoliberalism: Connecting Policies and Practices, 2014, p. 73), leaving multi-billion dollar companies like Monsanto to continue to pay only token fines to appease public outcry.
Even with the technically positive outcome, the SEC case and the settlement do little to address the various social and health issues that Monsanto’s aggressive legal lobbying, not to mention their products, has often been accused of contributing to. Given the links between Monsanto and governing bodies, namely the FDA, SEC charges that relate to accounting indiscretion do little to even investigate, in an objective light, the accusations that surround the chemical company, specifically how monocrops and GMOs contribute to agricultural decline.
Given that the only motivator for cases like these to appear before a court are the promise of money, specifically targeted to insiders who have access to information, the freedom or drive for independent, third-party analysis and investigation seem woefully improbably.
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