ADM movie

Matt Damon stars as Mark Whitacre in Warner Bros. Pictures’ offbeat comedy “The Informant!.”

Claudette Barius
The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

CLINTON — The movie “The Informant!” will be released into theaters on Friday. Set in Decatur, Ill., it features a name Clinton-area residents should recognize, Archer Daniels Midland.

This film is based on a true incident in the early 1990s where a high-ranking ADM executive, Mark Whitacre, portrayed by Matt Damon, confesses to an FBI agent that ADM executives, including himself, had routinely met with competitors to fix the price of the food additive lysine.

In 1995, three former ADM executives were convicted of conspiring to fix the price of lysine. During the investigations, it was discovered one of the executives had also embezzled millions of dollars from the company. All three men went to prison and ADM paid substantial sums in fines and restitution. The movie, marketed as a dark comedy, focuses more on Whitacre’s personality and his mental meltdown that occurred from the pressures of working with the FBI.

When ADM learned Steven Soderbergh would be making the film, representatives from the company met with him and his team and gave them tours of their facilities. Soderbergh’s team was also allowed to do some of the filming on ADM property.

“We understand that ‘The Informant!’ is an entertainment vehicle that does not attempt to fully or accurately depict the company then, and it certainly does not reflect the company now. In 1995, ADM was a company made up of close to 15,000 honest, responsible, hardworking people. Of those 15,000 employees, only a very few were involved in illegal activities and they are no longer with the company,” Media Relations Manager Roman Blahoski said in an e-mail.

Since the incident, ADM has put in place the policies and controls to prevent a recurrence of the misconduct represented in the movie. All ADM colleagues receive training in “The ADM Way,” which is the business code of conduct and ethics. Those responsible for pricing, sales and marketing are trained on antitrust laws and are provided written guidance on compliance with such laws.

“ADM is a global company and respected industry leader with 28,000 employees. We maintain a robust ethics program, with practices and policies that align our actions with our values. We have enhanced financial controls, new leadership and a bright future ahead of us,” stated Blahoski. “It is because ADM is, and has been, a company of good, hardworking people, that we have not only survived, but thrived after a situation that would have destroyed many other companies.”

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