16 January 2006 -- Top executives for the Australian Wheat Board (AWB), the country's wheat-export monopoly, were accused today of paying some $220 million in bribes to the former Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein.
The accusation was made in an opening statement to a commission of inquiry into AWB's involvement in the Iraq oil-for-food scandal.
The inquiry will investigate AWB's involvement in the 1997-2003 program that allowed sanctions-hit Iraq to export oil and import humanitarian goods.
A UN-commissioned report by former U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volker named AWB, the largest humanitarian provider under the UN program, as one of more than 2,200 firms that provided kickbacks to the Iraqi government.
The company has denied any wrongdoing, saying it was duped.
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