The Cole Inquiry into the Australian government sanctioned kickbacks paid by AWB to tthe Saddam Hussein regime in Iraq proceeded a little further today, with the evidence from the ‘Australia’s woman in Baghdad’ that;
“an investigation of the documents left behind by Saddam Hussein’s regime had revealed that every contract negotiated by the Iraqis under the oil-for-food program since 2000 had included a kickback to the regime from between 10 per cent and 19 per cent.”
This information was sent to;
“a who’s who of the Howard Government, including the Prime Minister himself, Foreign Minister Alexander Downer, Treasurer Peter Costello, Trade Minister Mark Vaile, other senior ministers, departmental heads and the chiefs of Australia’s intelligence agencies.”
So … either everyone there is either lying that the didn’t know about, or they are incompetent or just corrupt. Or a combination of this.
Another internal minute was sent to Downer and Vaile, in March 2004, saying that the AWB was likely to be investigated by the UN Volcker Inquiry into corruption of the Oil For Food program.
Kevin Rudd has a much better handle on the timelines of this farce, pointing out that;
“March 2004, Minister Downer gets a ministerial submission from his own department, warning of what the Volcker Inquiry was about to look at and Mr Downer on paper expresses his concerns about how the AWB has behaved, yet for more than another six months, the AWB, in fact, is still engaging in corrupt contracts under the oil-for-food program. This is nothing short of a disgrace.”
Or you could look at this in another way.
Our esteemed Foreign Minister* says;
“When the minute arrived I have demonstrated, if I may say so, characteristic diligence in ensuring that the department followed up the issue … It duly was followed up and AWB Limited wrote to me and Mr Vaile and yet again AWB absolutely, absolutely insisted that they had done nothing wrong.”
Diligence characteristic of Minister Downer, perhaps?
* For now.