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Last updated on August 9th, 2017 at 06:33 am

This changes things a little:

AWB agreed to pay bribes to corrupt Iraqi officials, deciding that it could explain the deals to the Howard Government after the Iraq war, according to evidence before an inquiry into the scandal.

Counsel John Agius produced an AWB memo outlining a plan to pay more than $US2 million to a man who would later become the Six of Hearts in the US’s pack of cards of “Most Wanted Iraqis”, and to discuss it with Canberra.

The money, which was to be paid just months before Australian troops went to war in Iraq, was secretly added to the price of Australia’s wheat contracts, which were then passed to the UN for approval.

The AWB memo said managing director Andrew Lindberg – who was under fire yesterday for releasing, then withdrawing, a misleading statement to the ASX – should “tell the Australian Government about the deal at the appropriate time”. It noted that “timing of such a disclosure” was unlikely to be “until after a war with Iraq”.

That would seem to leave the government in the clear. Alexander Downer said as much today in a letter to The Australian:

AWB chief executive Andrew Lindberg told the inquiry that our discussions were not specifically about individual contracts. I have nothing to hide in this matter … People should allow the commission to reach its conclusions before making hysterical claims …

For example:

We can be pretty confident of the following … Both Downer and Howard knew that the AWB was paying kickbacks to the Iraqi regime

Kevin Rudd now wants Australia to repay the UN, despite the UN approving the deals:

Australia must repay money that grain marketer AWB has ripped off the United Nations, while the wheat exporter’s boss now has no option but to resign, Labor says.

He’s right about the AWB boss, though.

(Earlier links here; Cole commission transcripts here)

Posted by Tim B. on 01/19/2006 at 04:13 AM
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