Monday, November 27, 2006

Privatizing The Wheat Board

This is what happens when you privatize the Wheat Board. The Australian Wheat Board is a model that right wing looney Lorne Gunter suggested the Tories use for their new dual desk marketing scheme.

And it gets even better because BHP Billiton is also charged. They are the nice folks doing diamond mining in Canada's far north, who forced their workers to strike this summer.

Australian company paid kickbacks to Saddam

The payments were made to ensure access to the lucrative Iraqi market, where the United States and Canada were major competitors.

The commission also found that the company, AWB (formerly the state- owned Australian Wheat Board), had "deliberately and dishonestly" devised a scheme for the payments, made from 1999 until the overthrow of Saddam three years ago, that would deceive the United Nations. When the United Nations conducted an investigation in 2005, headed by Paul Volcker, AWB withheld thousands of pages of documents and its lawyers made false statements, the commission found.

THE monopoly of AWB over Australia’s A$4 billion-a-year (£1.6 billion) wheat export market was in doubt yesterday, after a judicial inquiry found that the exporter had paid Iraq US$222 million (£115 million) in bribes to secure grain sales between 1999 and 2003.

Meanwhile, 11 former AWB executives, including Trevor Flugge, the ex-chairman, and Murray Rogers, the ex-chief executive, could face criminal charges after the 11-month inquiry by Terence Cole, a retired judge.

Brendan Stewart, AWB’s present chairman, said yesterday that the exporter deeply regretted the way in which its wheat trade with Iraq had been conducted.

This week BHP Billiton, the mining giant, will release the results of its own investigation into the scandal, in which it is also implicated.

In his report, Mr Cole described Norman Davidson Kelly, the founder of Tigris Petroleum, BHP’s joint venture partner, as a “thoroughly disreputable man with no commercial morality”.

Five former and current BHP executives testified at the inquiry.


Wheat Board

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