Commodity trader probes accounts and puts finance chief on leave

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US agricultural giant Archer Daniels Midland has placed its chief financial officer on leave and delayed its earnings release as it investigates accounting practices in its nutrition business.

In a statement on Sunday night, the company said its board had decided to put Vikram Luthar on administrative leave with immediate effect and appointed Ismael Roig as interim finance chief.

Chicago-based ADM said it had launched an investigation into accounting practices and procedures in the nutrition business, after a request for documents from the US Securities and Exchange Commission. The company gave no further details, but said it was co-operating with the SEC.

The crop merchant said its fourth-quarter earnings release would be delayed, adding that it expected to deliver above $6.90 in adjusted earnings per share for the fiscal year ended December 2023. ADM in October forecast full-year profits above $7 per share.

“The board takes these matters very seriously,” said lead director Terry Crews. “Pending the outcome of the investigation, the board determined that it was advisable to place Mr Luthar on administrative leave.

“The board will continue to work in close co-ordination with ADM’s advisers to . . . ensure ADM’s processes align with financial governance best practices,” he added.

ADM is among a handful of companies, including Bunge and Louis Dreyfus, that dominate the international trading and processing of grain. Along with its rivals, ADM benefited from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine that sent the price of agricultural commodities soaring in 2022.

Luthar replaced ADM’s longstanding finance chief Ray Young in early 2022.

Shares in ADM fell almost 10 per cent in pre-market trading in New York on Monday.

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