By Kim Richters
Bayer AG (BAYN.XE) said Thursday that it has found no evidence of illegal behavior relating to lists Bayer-owned Monsanto compiled on more than a thousand individuals and their stance on the use of herbicide glyphosate, following an investigation that the company commissioned.
Earlier this year, the German pharmaceutical and chemical giant faced fresh legal concerns after it was reported that Monsanto and U.S. public-relations firm FleishmanHillard had drawn up files on personalities and their views on the alleged health risks of glyphosate in 2016.
Bayer hired U.S. law firm Sidley Austin to carry out the investigation, saying it wanted to clarify the allegations that Monsanto or the PR firm had collected confidential or private data in violation of legal regulations.
"There is no question that the ... stakeholder lists created were detailed, methodical, and designed to strongly advocate Monsanto's positions to stakeholders and to the public," the law firm said on Thursday about the lists of some 1,475 people from countries such as France, Germany or Spain.
"There was also no evidence that the lists were based on illegal 'surveillance' of individuals, as claimed by the media," Bayer said on Thursday. It said the content of the lists available to Sidley Austin was largely from publicly available information such as press articles or social media accounts.
However, it said that the law firm didn't find a "specific French document shown in French media on which the public discussion focused, in which leisure or other interests (golf, tennis, hunting, etc.) were mentioned as one key area of focus."
Additionally, Bayer said that the German council for public relations had also investigated the issue but found no wrongdoing.
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