Home>News Center>World

Australia probes wheat board over alleged Saddam kickbacks
Updated: 2005-11-10 14:59

The Australian government has announced the appointment of a commission of inquiry into the alleged involvement of the country's monopoly wheat exporter in the oil-for-food scandal in Iraq.

A UN report charged last month that the government of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein received more than 220 million US dollars through Australian Wheat Board (AWB) contracts under the programme.

Attorney-General Philip Ruddock said Terrence Cole, a former New South Wales Supreme Court judge of appeal, would head the inquiry into the AWB deals and two other Australian companies named in the UN report.

"This inquiry will examine whether those companies mentioned in the report or any persons associated with them might have breached any law of the commonwealth or a state or territory," and whether charges should be laid, he told reporters.

Announcing plans for an inquiry last week, Prime Minister John Howard said: "It goes without saying that the fact that money coming from AWB Limited ended up in the pockets of the loathsome Saddam Hussein regime is something that I find quite unacceptable."

AWB managing director Andrew Lindberg has denied the company was involved in corruption and said it had been duped.

The report by former US central bank chief Paul Volker found that AWB, the largest humanitarian provider under the UN's oil-for-food programme, did not directly pay bribes to the Iraqi government but that some of its officers probably realised what was going on.

Volker's 18-month investigation named AWB as one of more than 2,200 firms that provided kickbacks to the Iraqi government under the programme that ran from 1996 to 2003, allowing sanction-hit Iraq to export oil and import humanitarian goods.

The two other Australian suppliers named in the Volcker report as having dealt with Iraq are Alkaloids of Australia, which provided about 750,000 US dollars in pharmaceuticals, and Distall Rhine Ruhr, which supplied parts to the oil industry worth about 187,000 US dollars.

Both companies denied paying kickbacks to Saddam's government.

Suicide bombers kill 57 at Jordan hotels
Health experts plan regional stockpiles of antiviral drugs
Plane crash exercise in Manila
  Today's Top News     Top World News

3 Chinese among 57 killed in Jordan hotel bombings



Blair: China's rapid development not a threat



New outbreaks reported, 'situation serious'



Banker: No official adjustment of yuan rate



Panel urges US-China energy cooperation



Hostage stand-off ends in suicide blast


  3 Chinese among 57 killed in Jordan hotel bombings
  US tells North Korea to stop reactor now
  Rioting begins to slack off in France
  Asia terror chief believed killed in Indonesia
  US feds indict 2 in missile-smuggling scheme
  Saddam's defense team threatens to boycott
  Go to Another Section  
  Story Tools  
  Related Stories  
Indian Foreign Minister resigns over Iraq report
India to study UN oil-for-food report
Indian FM says ready for Iraqi oil-for-food probe
UN: 2,000 firms gave Iraq illicit funds
  News Talk  
  Are the Republicans exploiting the memory of 9/11?  
Manufacturers, Exporters, Wholesalers - Global trade starts here.