Saturday, August 29, 2009

AWB Oil-for-Food scandal The Players

From the mid 90’s to around 2006 Australia’s government, some statutory authorities and public service were implicated in attempts to subvert the UN Oil for Food program. Australia’s major involvement revolves around a former statutory body – The Australian Wheat Board and eventually the offspring AWB LTD. Here are some of the major players in the AWB scandal:

John Howard: Australian Prime Minister since March 1996. Leader of the Australian Liberal Party which currently governs federally in coalition with the National Party.

Alexander Downer: Australian Foreign Minister, jointly administers the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) with Mark Vaille.

Mark Vaile: Deputy Prime Minister and leaders of the National Party. Jointly administers the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) with Alexander Downer.

Robert Bowker: Dr Bowker is a specialist on Middle East and Islamic issues. In Canberra, Dr Bowker has been the Director of the Middle East Section of DFAT three times, most recently in 1999-2000. From 2001-2003 he was seconded from DFAT to the Directing Staff of the Centre for Defence and Strategic Studies at the Australian Defence College, Canberra. He served as Ambassador to Egypt. He also denied removing a crucial AWB letter on Jordanian trucking firms from the department's files.

Alistair Nicholas: Austrade commissioner in Washington during 2000.

Jane Drake-Brockman: Was a senior DFAT head. denied removing a crucial AWB letter on Jordanian trucking firms from the department's files and lying about it. faxed letter, signed by an AWB executive, Charles Stott, has disappeared despite an official search for it. The fax was sent to the department on October 30, 2000, three days before Ms Drake-Brockman signed a reply granting AWB permission to enter into "a commercial arrangement" with a Jordanian trucking firm.

Michael Thawley: Former US ambassador; lobbied Congress to drop an investigation into allegations that Australia's wheat exporter paid kickbacks to Saddam Hussein's Iraqi regime. Apparently Michael Thawley is now Senior Vice President of Capital Strategy Research Inc, a member of the Capital Group companies.

Trevor Flugge: Former chairman of the Australian Wheat Board then AWB Ltd following the privatization of the government corporation . Flugge was paid almost a million dollars for his work as a consultant marketing grain in Iraq. He [was] a director of a number of companies, including Woolmark and Wesfarmers. Several AWB executives, including senior managers Mark Emons, Nigel Officer and Tim Snowball, have given evidence to the inquiry that Flugg, who was voted out as chairman in 2002, knew that irregular payments were being made to Iraq and allowed it to happen because he did not want to lose valuable contracts to competitors. - Trevor Flügge Diary October 1999

Brendan Stewart: Stewart was elected by the directors as Chairman on 14 March 2002 and re-elected Chairman on 13 March 2003. He is also a non-executive director of AWB (International) Limited. Stewart operates a 3,200 hectare property that produces grain, cotton and cattle at Chinchilla, Queensland. He is a former President of Queensland Graingrowers Association and Grains Council of Australia and was Chair of the Joint Ministerial Working Group on the Australian Wheat Board Restructure and Vice President of National Farmers Federation (NFF). Apparently Stewart is currently applying his AWB experience to his Brisbane consultancy which takes on a broad range of business issues.

Andrew Lindberg: From 2000 until February 2006 he held the positions of managing director and board member of AWB Limited. He resigned from these positions in the wake of his appearance at the Cole Inquiry.

Mark Emons: Former AWB executive who told the Cole inquiry illicit payments had been going to Iraq to facilitate Australian wheat sales for years, even back to when it was still a statutory Government authority in 1999.

Michael Long: Former AWB executive who told the inquiry he had discovered when he was in Baghdad for the Howard Government immediately after the war in June 2003, that the AWB had been involved in kickbacks to Iraq.

Dominic Hogan Former sales executive for AWB, Dominic Hogan gave detailed evidence about exorbitant fees being paid to secure wheat deals, including a four million USD payment to a Pakistani agent for a one million tonne shipment of wheat.

Mohammed Medi-Saleh: Iraqi trade minister under Saddam Hussein. Saleh claimed seven years of sanctions had cost the Iraqi government more than $100bn from oil sales and had led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis.

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