May 27, 2004
Wheat exporter AWB Limited says it’s considering legal action against allegations it was involved in paying kickbacks to the former Iraqi regime.
Under the United Nations’ Oil for Food program, Australia was the main supplier of wheat to Iraq, but that program is now being investigated after claims of corruption.
AWB managing director Andrew Lindberg has adamantly denied the company was involved in any corrupt or illegal activities when it supplied wheat to Iraq under the UN’s aid program.
He says if it had happened, he would have known about it.
Andrew Lindberg: “Well, yes, we would have known about it, if it had happened.
“To the best of our knowledge, it has not happened and it would not happen, certainly not on my watch.”
Madelene Pearson: “Mr Lindberg says the company has not been told its part of any investigation or asked to comply with one.
“And he says he won’t rule out legal action to protect AWB’s reputation.
“Mr Lindberg also confirmed his company is interested in Pakistan’s new tender to import up to one million tonnes of wheat, despite Australian grain being rejected by the country earlier this year.”
“We don’t hold any grudges against the Pakistanis; far from it.
“We do want to do business there, but we need to do it under the right circumstances.”
Mr Lindberg was commenting after the release of AWB’s half yearly profit of $54.1 million. He says the company is predicting a wheat harvest of between 21 and 24 million tonnes for the coming season.
And eastern states’ grain handler GrainCorp has announced a half yearly profit of $12.5 million, a rise of 27 per cent on the same period last year.
The company received 11 million tonnes of grain and undertook some rationalisation, which included cutting 200 jobs in its Allied Mills.
Shareholders will be paid a full-year dividend of 36 to 40 cents, or a half-yearly dividend of 27 cents.