Agricultural giant Archer-Daniels-Midland Co. is suing the parents of one of its former executives, saying they shared in part of the $9 million he stole from the company.
In a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court, ADM accuses Marion and Evelyn Whitacre of Morrow, about 30 miles northeast of Cincinnati, of knowingly receiving more than $139,000 of the company's money from their son, Mark Whitacre.
The lawsuit, filed Monday, alleges conversion, fraud and conspiracy and asks for return of the money plus $500,000 in punitive damages.
Mark Whitacre, former head of the BioProducts Division of Decatur, Ill.-based ADM, pleaded guilty in October to swindling ADM out of $9 million. He is to be sentenced Feb. 26.
Marion and Evelyn Whitacre's telephone was out of service Tuesday and they could not be reached for comment. Court documents did not list an attorney for them.
Jane Garfinkle, an attorney representing the company, declined to comment on the lawsuit Tuesday.
ADM alleges that its own investigation revealed that some of the money Mark Whitacre took was wired from a Swiss bank account to his parents between 1990 and 1996.
Mark Whitacre told the FBI about alleged price fixing and other wrongdoing at ADM in 1992. He became an undercover informant and secretly made tapes of top ADM executives but became a defendant as the investigation grew.
ADM pleaded guilty in 1996 to fixing prices of citric acid and of lysine, a livestock feed additive. The company also agreed to pay a record $100 million fine.
Last week, former ADM executive Reinhard Richter was sentenced to a year of probation and fined $25,000 after pleading guilty to fraud charges.
Richter admitted conspiring with Mark Whitacre to defraud the company and to evade U.S. income taxes through a phony invoicing scheme.
Mark Whitacre also is to be tried on criminal price fixing and conspiracy charges, along with Terrance S. Wilson, the retired chief of ADM's corn-processing division, and Michael D. Andreas, the son of ADM Chairman Dwayne Andreas, who is on leave from his job as vice chairman of ADM.
Morrow is about 30 miles northeast of Cincinnati.
By Kevin O'Hanlon
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