Inquiry continues

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Last updated on August 9th, 2017 at 06:02 am

Remember the wheat-for-oil scandal? It was big news before Liberal party operative Mark Latham ingeniously provided a distraction. Anyway, here’s the latest:

Senior managers in AWB urged their managing director to meet the Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer, to get his approval for a falsely inflated wheat contract with Saddam Hussein’s regime that was designed to circumvent United Nations sanctions on Iraq.

Details of the scheme were revealed yesterday at the inquiry into the oil-for-food scandal in a memo written by a senior AWB executive who described the deal as “a sensitive issue”. The memo was written in February, 2003, shortly before Australia joined the US in invading Iraq.

“As we get closer to the loading of the first vessel, we will need to advise so you can OK the payment mechanism with DFAT [the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade], i.e. Minister Downer”, the memo said. “My guess is that DFAT and the UN will have major problems with this, and if they say ‘no’ then we will have to address another way to get the moneys to Iraq.”

Looks like managing director Lindberg may not have bothered clearing the “payment mechanism”. It also looks as though the troublesome “payment mechanism” was only conceived very late in negotiations between Iraq and the AWB.

Posted by Tim B. on 01/19/2006 at 10:52 PM
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