AWB shrugs off US ban

by admin on August 30th, 2019

filed under 苏州半永久

AWB spokesman Peter McBride said there had been ongoing discussions with the Department of Agriculture (USDA) on this issue and there seemed to be a little bit of misunderstanding.


“Firstly we haven’t received any official notice,” he said.

“Secondly we have not used the export subsidy program since early 2004.

“We have informed them recently that we would voluntarily step down from using the export program. We don’t envisage using it in the foreseeable future.”

“As we haven’t used the program for over two and a half years and we are currently not using it, we will just continue to have discussions with them going forward.”

AWB now has a month to respond to the USDA move and announce whether it will contest the debarment action – a process that could involve a protracted hearing process.

US Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns announced overnight AWB and its affiliates, as well as 11 former employees, could be barred indefinitely from US government programs after further investigations.

The announcement follows last month’s release of the Cole report, commissioned by the Australian government, which found that AWB had funnelled almost $300 million in kickbacks to Saddam Hussein’s former regime to secure lucrative wheat export contracts with Iraq in defiance of the United Nations.

Commissioner Terence Cole also recommended 11 AWB employees – including former company chairman Trevor Flugge, former chief executive Murray Rogers and former chief financial officer Paul Ingleby – be further investigated for possible criminal or corporate offences.

“We have a duty to protect the public interest by ensuring the firms and individuals with whom we do business abide by the law,” Mr Johanns said in a statement.

“We have taken this immediate step based on evidence of illicit activities and, in some cases, evidence of attempts to conceal those activities.”

USDA spokeswoman Dana Johnson said the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) looked very closely at the Cole report.

“We have taken this step based on the evidence and on our duty to protect the public interest and to ensure the USDA only does business with responsible individuals,” she told ABC radio.

“We found evidence that led our officials here to order the suspension and debarment of AWB Limited and its affiliates.

“In addition there was a US company that we have also proposed suspension and debarment for.”

Ms Johnson said the debarment still applied to AWB even though most named personnel now had no involvement with AWB and regulations clearly stipulated responsibility of the named entities and individuals.

“That will be decided during debarment proceeding that will unfold over the next few months,” she said.

Ms Johnson said the immediate suspension barred AWB and individuals from contracting with the US government and participating in most US programs.

“AWB USA Limited had in the past in 2002-04 accessed some of the USDA export credit guarantee programs,” she said.

“The suspension and debarment would apply to AWB Limited and all of its current future affiliates. Should AWB USA decide to try to access those programs, this would exclude them.”

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