ACFE Cookbook

It's all about customer service



This column's cases deal with improper accounting for special arrangements made with customers. Companies go to great lengths to meet sales goals, including offering special incentives for customers to buy their products. But the accounting rules provide a framework for how and when such incentives should be reflected in a company's financial statements.

Monsanto

A February 2016 enforcement release from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) describes a misstatement in the financial statements of Monsanto Company. Monsanto is a leading multinational agricultural seed and chemical producer. You might be familiar with Monsanto's "Roundup" — a yard and garden herbicide.

From 2009 to 2011, Monsanto improperly accounted for rebates offered to Roundup distributors and retailers. The pressure for the improper accounting can be traced back to 2000, when the patent for Roundup expired. Competition from generic producers then began chipping away at Roundup's market share. Price competition reached a peak in 2009. One of the side effects of the increased competition was that Monsanto's customers (retailers and distributors) were keeping less Roundup on hand because they anticipated price reductions from Monsanto in reaction to the price pressures.

 


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