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Australia oil-for-food inquiry recommends charges for wheat execs, clears government

[JURIST] An Australian government commission investigating Australian participation in the now-defunct UN oil-for-food program [JURIST news archive] in Iraq has recommended that criminal charges be brought against 12 business executives for paying kickbacks to Saddam Hussein's former regime [JURIST report]. In a report [commission materials] formally submitted to Parliament [AG statement] Monday, the Cole Commission [official website] confirmed earlier UN reports that the Australian Wheat Board (AWB) [corporate website] paid roughly $220 million in kickbacks to secure $2.3 billion in grain contracts.

The report found no evidence of government misconduct, although an AWB executive testified [hearing transcripts] that Australian officials knew of the kickbacks by March 2001. Australian Prime Minister Howard, who has repeatedly any denied government wrongdoing, on Monday agreed to establish a police task force [transcript] to consider prosecuting the 12 executives, as proposed by the Cole Commission report. AP has more.

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