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Australian PM calls for oil-for-food kickback inquiry

[JURIST] Australian Prime Minister John Howard [official website] asked parliament Monday to establish an independent inquiry into whether any Australian companies paid bribes to Iraqi officials involved in the now defunct UN oil-for-food program [official website, JURIST news archive]. Last week, a UN report [JURIST report; PDF text] issued by an independent panel headed by former US Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker [official profile], found that officials under Saddam Hussein received more than $1.8 billion in kickbacks from more than 2,200 companies. The Australian Wheat Board (AWB) [corporate website] was named in the report for allegedly paying nearly $300 million to a Jordanian trucking company, which funneled the money to Hussein. However, the report also found insufficient evidence that AWB officials knew where the money was actually going. AWB has denied the company was involved in paying kickbacks [press release] and has promised to fully cooperate with the investigation. AFP has more. ABC Australia has local coverage.

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