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Email implicates Austrade in AWB kickbacks.

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Kelvin Thomson MP Shadow Minister for Public Accountability Shadow Minister for Human Services

Tuesday, 14 November 2006

Email Implicates Austrade in AWB Kickbacks

The Howard Government has been angling all along for a finding from the Cole Inquiry that goes, “AWB Guilty; Government Innocent”.

But an email of September 23, 2003 sent by Austrade’s Manager in Jordan, Ramzi Maaytah refers to a meeting held between himself, Austrade’s Regional Manager for Europe, Middle East and Africa, John Finnin, the ex-head of the Iraqi Grains Board Yousef Rahman, and the Al-Khawam family, 51% owners of Alia.

This email shows Austrade was wheeling and dealing with Alia well before the Volker Inquiry, and implicates the Government itself in the Kickbacks scandal.

The Foreign Affairs Minister, the Trade Minister and Austrade have sought to mislead the Australian people. They have claimed that the Government knew nothing of Alia until the Volcker Inquiry was established in 2004. But here we have a meeting between Austrade officials and the 51% owners of Alia in 2003.

When Alia’s General Manager, Othman Al-Absi said earlier this year that Austrade knew all about Alia in 2003, Austrade denied it. This meeting shows Alia’s General Manager was right all along.

Why was this meeting not featured in testimony at the Cole Inquiry?

Why have neither of the Austrade officials John Finnin and Ramsi Maaytah, appeared at the Cole Inquiry?

You can’t trust anything the Howard Government tells you about the AWB scandal.

The Government must now make public all Austrade’s records of both meetings this email refers to.

Contact: Kelvin Thomson: 0419 594 882

Martin Callinan: 040 000 6311