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AWB embroiled in food-for-oil scandal -

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(generated from captions) There's anger tonight following the revelation that Australia's monopoly wheat exporter, the AWB, indirectly paid Saddam Hussein's government almost $300 million. The kick-backs, uncovered by a United Nations probe went through a Jordanian trucking company and were made as part of the UN's oil-for-food program. While Australian growers and grain traders are demanding to know why the scam went undetected AWB says it was fooled into paying the money to Saddam's regime and has blamed the UN for the scandal. Chris Clark reports. The UN's oil-for-food program was supposed to let Saddam Hussein sell oil and buy food to feed his people.

It also turned into a slush fund for Saddam and his cronies to siphon off billions. The corruption has already stained the UN and now thousands of companies around the world are implicated - including Australia's wheat export company - AWB.

The corruption of the program of

Saddam and by many participates was

substantial, could not have been

nearly so pervasive if there had

been more disciplined management by

the UN and its agencies. Iraqis have been making bread from Australian wheat for decades, and under the oil-for-food program AWB was the single biggest humanitarian relief provider. But along the way it seems AWB paid nearly $300 million to Saddam's regime, through Alia, a Jordanian company part-owned by the Iraqi government. It did so through wildly inflated transport charges. AWB says it didn't know.

We didn't know and we couldn't have

known quite frankly what happened

known quite frankly what happened to the funds after we paid Alia. I

think what we are very disapointed

about is to learn now through the

vul car inquiry in fact there were

concerns wraids the UN about

trucking in the fees, but those

concerns were neither acted upon by

the UN committee responsible or,

more importantly, ever communicated

to AWB at any time. And in any

to AWB at any time. And in any event AWB argues it played by the UN's

rules. At all time tlus the

oil-for-food program which relied

oil-for-food program which relied on the UN. They approved the contracts,

contracts that included inland

transport and they were there to

certify that the prices were

reasonable and acceptable. The PM

says it's a matter for AWB, which

says it's a matter for AWB, which is no longer control by the Government

It's no longer own tbids Government.

AWB was privatised back in 1999.

That's three yaersz into the oil

That's three yaersz into the oil for food program. Where there is

evidence, it says companies should

be pros duted. At UN headquarters

in New York, the secretary general

not for the first time promises

reform. I think there are lessoner

for all of us to learn and

for all of us to learn and obviously we're going to learn from the

lessons, take measures to strength

jen the organisation and we already

have proposals for reforms that

have proposals for reforms that will ensure that in future we are better

equipped to handle this sort of

program. The oil for food program

has damaged the UN and Mr Annan's