Eastern Division

 

 

1.800.440.4556

 
- DTN Headline News
ADM: Employee Info Released in Error
By Todd Neeley
Friday, May 20, 2022 2:34PM CDT

LINCOLN, Neb. (DTN) -- Archer Daniels Midland alleges a federal court in Illinois erred when it released sealed company information as part of a May 3 ruling in an ethanol markets lawsuit.

The U.S. District Court for the District of Central Illinois granted the plaintiffs, AOT Holding AG, access to documents and other communications related to the 2019 suspension of an ADM accounting employee.

On Tuesday, attorneys for ADM asked the court to reconsider the ruling and to seal any company objections going forward. ADM said in its appeal the court's ruling was "clearly erroneous and contrary to law."

In particular, the court ordered ADM to provide information related to the suspension of employee Adam Kuffel to plaintiff AOT. Kuffel was suspended for allegedly violating the company's internal accounting policy.

AOT is one of several plaintiffs that have sued ADM, alleging the company manipulated ethanol prices, violating the Commodity Exchange Act. Specifically, AOT has alleged ADM suppressed the daily benchmark price of ethanol to benefit its short positions.

At an AOT deposition of Kuffel, he revealed he was suspended without pay by ADM in September 2019, according to the May 3 court order. Kuffel said during a deposition that a superior ordered him to violate the policy.

AOT filed its complaint just prior to the suspension, according to the order.

"Specifically, Kuffel improperly transferred short ethanol hedges from a 'mark-to-market' account to a 'slotted-futures' account," the order said.

"Kuffel testified that he was acting at the direction of either Rachel Hudson or Chris Cuddy, both of whom are Kuffel's superiors at ADM. Central to plaintiff's theory of the case are the actions of Ray Bradbury and Adam Kuffel (ADM employees)."

AOT has alleged Bradbury and Kuffel, as "senior members of ADM's ethanol group" worked to artificially lower the price of ethanol derivatives. Hudson passed away recently after working for 17 years at ADM.

In a motion to seal documents related to ADM's objection to the ruling, the company said its objection "quotes from and substantially paraphrases documents and testimony that contain information that the parties or non-parties have designated as either 'confidential' or 'highly confidential'" as directed by the court in a December 2019 protective order.

ADM attorneys argue the court's May 3 ruling released information that should have been sealed as part of the 2019 order.

"This court's order granting the motion, entered on the same day, publicly revealed some of ADM's materials that were designated and intended to be confidential," the company said in its objection.

"ADM respectfully requests that the court grant this motion to provisionally seal this objection while ADM discusses with plaintiffs and the court the extent to which the information in the parties' briefing on the objection should remain sealed."

AOT has alleged ADM's actions benefited the company by increasing the value of ADM's "short" or "hedged" ethanol positions. "Stated differently, plaintiff alleges that Bradbury and Kuffel artificially stunted ethanol prices to benefit ADM investments," the court said in its May 3 ruling.

The court sided with AOT on its claim that all documents and communications related to Kuffel's suspension are relevant to the overall case.

The court said AOT should have the opportunity to probe whether Kuffel's suspension was in any way connected to the alleged price-manipulation scheme.

AOT filed a class-action lawsuit in May 2020, alleging ADM manipulated the market at the Argo, Illinois, terminal by flooding the fuel terminal with lower-priced ethanol starting in November 2017 through March 2019.

The Argo terminal is the daily location for ethanol trading. The court said the specific trading in question occurred during the 30-minute "market-on-close," or MOC, window.

The trading window is considered crucial because the trading is used to set the daily Chicago benchmark price to determine the value of Chicago ethanol derivatives.

Similar lawsuits were filed by Wisconsin ethanol producers United Wisconsin Grain Producers, Didion Ethanol, Ace Ethanol, Fox River Valley Ethanol, Badger State Ethanol and Iowa producer Pine Lake Corn. In addition, a lawsuit filed by Green Plains Inc. in Nebraska was transferred to the Illinois court.

Read more on DTN:

"ADM Ordered to Release Docs on Employee," https://www.dtnpf.com/…

"Ethanol Price Manipulation Case Moves," https://www.dtnpf.com/…

"ADM Trial Set for 2024," https://www.dtnpf.com/…

Todd Neeley can be reached at todd.neeley@dtn.com

Follow him on Twitter @DTNeeley


blog iconDTN Blogs & Forums
DTN Market Matters Blog
Editorial Staff
Friday, May 20, 2022 10:25AM CDT
Friday, May 20, 2022 10:25AM CDT
Friday, May 20, 2022 10:25AM CDT
Fundamentally Speaking
Joel Karlin
DTN Contributing Analyst
Thursday, May 19, 2022 11:02AM CDT
Wednesday, May 18, 2022 10:13AM CDT
Friday, May 13, 2022 2:58PM CDT
DTN Ag Policy Blog
Chris Clayton
DTN Ag Policy Editor
Wednesday, May 18, 2022 9:09PM CDT
Wednesday, May 18, 2022 9:09PM CDT
Monday, May 16, 2022 5:58PM CDT
Minding Ag's Business
Katie Behlinger
Farm Business Editor
Wednesday, May 4, 2022 4:25PM CDT
Tuesday, April 12, 2022 5:00AM CDT
Friday, March 4, 2022 8:10AM CDT
DTN Ag Weather Forum
Bryce Anderson
DTN Ag Meteorologist and DTN Analyst
Friday, May 20, 2022 8:10AM CDT
Tuesday, May 17, 2022 2:59PM CDT
Thursday, May 12, 2022 11:50AM CDT
DTN Production Blog
Pam Smith
Crops Technology Editor
Saturday, May 21, 2022 8:10AM CDT
Friday, May 6, 2022 5:00AM CDT
Thursday, April 14, 2022 2:10PM CDT
An Urban’s Rural View
Urban Lehner
Editor Emeritus
Friday, May 20, 2022 10:56AM CDT
Friday, May 6, 2022 12:07PM CDT
Tuesday, April 26, 2022 2:10PM CDT
Machinery Chatter
Dan Miller
Progressive Farmer Senior Editor
Friday, May 20, 2022 11:42AM CDT
Monday, April 25, 2022 5:14PM CDT
Monday, April 11, 2022 3:51PM CDT
Canadian Markets
Cliff Jamieson
Canadian Grains Analyst
Friday, May 20, 2022 12:28PM CDT
Thursday, May 19, 2022 4:02PM CDT
Wednesday, May 18, 2022 4:26PM CDT
Editor’s Notebook
Greg D. Horstmeier
DTN Editor-in-Chief
Thursday, April 28, 2022 2:31PM CDT
Tuesday, March 22, 2022 11:16AM CDT
Tuesday, March 22, 2022 11:16AM CDT
 
Copyright DTN. All rights reserved. Disclaimer.
hi
Powered By DTN