Executive turned whistleblower Mark Whitacre, portrayed by Matt Damon in the 2009 movie, “The Informant!”, will discuss the international price-fixing conspiracy he exposed at the Archer Daniels Midland Company in the mid-1990s as the featured speaker of the Pamplin College of Business Symposium on Business Ethics on Wednesday, March 19, at 7 p.m. at Virginia Tech’s Squires Haymarket Theater.

The event this year is co-sponsored with the Virginia Tech Student Engineers’ Council.

Whitacre, who is thought to be the highest ranked executive of any Fortune 500 company to become a whistleblower, worked undercover for the FBI for nearly three years during its investigation of the conspiracy, considered one of the largest price-fixing cases in U.S. history.

Whitacre served eight and a half years in federal prison for fraud and tax evasion and was released in December 2006. He is now chief operating officer and president of operations at Cypress Systems, a Fresno, Calif., biotechnology company.

Whitacre’s website notes that he was the youngest divisional president in ADM history when he was hired in 1989 at the age of 32. In 1992, he also became a corporate vice president of ADM and an officer of the company.

He received bachelor’s and master’s degrees in animal nutrition from Ohio State University and a Ph.D. in nutritional biochemistry from Cornell University.

During his Virginia Tech visit, Whitacre will meet Pamplin faculty members and students for an informal seminar. The symposium, which is in its 23rd year, will be part of a series of campus events exploring ethical issues in various disciplines during “Ethics Week,” March 17-21.

“As in previous years, we will be tying this symposium in with graduate and undergraduate strategy and ethics courses taught in Pamplin,” said Rich Wokutch, a management professor who teaches in the area of business ethics.

“We invite faculty teaching other courses to consider ethical issues related to the subject matter of their courses and to use the guest lecture as part of the discussion.”

In addition to the support of the Student Engineers’ Council, the symposium is sponsored by the Business Leadership Center of the Department of Management and by Pamplin accounting alumni Robert F. Hogan Jr., who earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in accounting in 1978 and 1980, respectively, and Jorge Del Alamo Jr., who earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting in 1969, and his wife Lin.

Previous symposium speakers have included academics, authors, government officials, and executives from SAIC, Tyco, Enron, Arthur Andersen, and Fairmont Hotels and Resorts.

The talk is free and open to the public, no tickets needed. Find parking information online. For assistance, call 540-231-6353. The talk will also be video recorded.

Questions about the speaker and other ethics-related events should be addressed to Richard Wokutch.



Share this story