Australian wheat exporter faces class action suit over corrupt payments to Saddam Hussein

Australia’s leading wheat exporter is facing a class-action lawsuit by nearly 1,000 shareholders who are demanding compensation for the millions of dollars they claim they lost through the company’s kickbacks to Saddam Hussein’s regime.

The trial against the Australian Wheat Board began Wednesday in Federal Court in Sydney.

In court, AWB admitted for the first time that it knew it was providing cash to the Iraqi regime via so-called “transport fees”.

A government-commissioned inquiry found in 2006 that the board paid more than US$220 million in kickbacks to the Iraqi government between 1999-2003 to secure lucrative wheat contracts.

Investors say they collectively lost more than $100 million when AWB shares fell during the inquiry.

 

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