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Australia oil-for-food inquiry to probe government knowledge of AWB bribes

[JURIST] The Australian judicial inquiry [Cole Commission website] looking into allegations that leading Australian wheat exporter Australian Wheat Board (AWB) [corporate website] provided over $200 million in kickbacks to Saddam Hussein's former regime [JURIST report] as part of the now-defunct UN oil-for-food program [JURIST news archive] has expanded its scope and will also try to learn what government officials knew about the alleged scam. Commission head Terence Cole [official profile] on Tuesday urged lawmakers and public servants to come forward with evidence in connection to the scandal.

Prime Minister John Howard [official profile] has insisted that the government had no knowledge of the alleged multimillion dollar scam that violated UN sanctions. An AWB executive, however, has testified [hearing transcripts] that Australian officials were aware of the company's payments to the Hussein regime as early as March, 2001. AP has more.

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