Written by U Ne Oo on 2006-10-01
written by U Ne Oo, email@example.com on 1 OCT 2006
Looking back just few years (1999-2002), isn't it astounding that those who had fled from Iraq (& Afghanistan) were locked-up in the concentration camp in the Woomera Desert by the Australian Government ? Whilst this racist government promoting anti-moslim propaganda at home at the same time turning a blind eyes to the AWB (then was closely administered by the government) bribing Saddam Hussein regime ??
In all of this, I am most disturbed by the tendency and readiness of prominent Australian businessmen engaging with the odious regime in such un-ethical way. Sure, the lure of money can corrupt anybody. But Australians personnels tend to falter a bit more; Much too ready to overlook UN sanction/trade rules etc. I've to say this case is an 'Australian specific' corruption because Canadians and Americans already were known to refused to be engaged in such bribery scheme with Saddam.
We've got to be wrong in thinking that this corruption is particular case because it involved with such large sum, i.e $290 Million Dollars. To my knowledge, the Australian personnels -- former Prime Minister down to the level of Human Rights Commissioner -- do tend to engage in such 'un-ethical' practice in much less amount of money.
For example, former Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke promoted business with the military regime in Burma in 1997-98. He did this at the bidding of the so-called 'pro-engagement' business lobby. The amount paid wasn't disclosed, though.
The former Human Rights Commissioner, Mr Chris Sidoti, had taken sponsorship payment of $500,000 AUD from the Premier Oil (http://netipr.org/~uneoo/20010225.html) for the controversial Human Rights Traning program in Burma. Haven't he got any conscience whatsoever about the struggle of democratic forces in Burma ? One just wonders.
At times, these incidents leave me the impression that prominent Australians at all levels have the tendency to corrupt, so long as if they can get away from any repercussions.
Of course, this conclusion need to be balanced with the fact that there were most forth right and straight forward Australians such as Tony Kevins, Andrew Wilkie, Cmdr Norman Banks (my idols here) etc..
WHAT WILL BE FOR AWB EXECUTIVES
Unfortunately, the anti-terrorism financing law which passed last year does seems to give ground for persecution on those AWB executives. When it comes to financing terrorison, that law explicitly says not the lack of intent alone is sufficient ground for a defence. Any 'consequential' or 'reckless act' that finance terrorist organisations will leads to a life imprisonments.
So, be very afraid Mr. AWB Executives. When a law was passed, there is no such thing as the law only for "the mullahs that government don't like". The law had to be applied equally to all Australians.
AWB MAY FACE TERRORISM CHARGES OVER IRAQ
By Raphael Minder in Sydney
Published: September 29 2006 11:51 | Last updated: September 29 2006 12:08
The Australian Wheat Board and some of its executives could face terrorism-linked charges over payments to Saddam Hussein's Iraqi regime following the release of an email discussing whether the funds were being used to help wipe out opponents, the senior lawyer advising a commission of inquiry said on Friday.
Terence Cole, head of the commission of inquiry looking into whether AWB paid A$290m in bribes to Iraq to secure wheat contracts during the UN oil-for-food programme, on Friday described the final day of public hearings as "a disaster for AWB".
Andrew Lindberg, the group”Ēs former managing director, broke down in tears during his cross-examination, as he was grilled about in-house emails discussing not only an illegal money transfer scheme but also suggesting some AWB executives knew the funds could help the Iraqi regime commit atrocities.
The most shocking piece of evidence on Friday was an email sent by Darryl Borlase, an AWB executive, discussing a request by Iraq for more foreign currency to construct bunkers to store grain. In his email, Mr Borlase questioned whether the bunkers would be used for grain or to bury Kurdish opponents to the regime.
The bunkers will have cement walls and floors, so they are actually designed for burying the Kurds - under the cement? Mr Borlase asked in his email. "They intend to build them with fumigation capability so the mind boggles as to whether they are fumigating insects or any other pest that pisses them off."
Mr Lindberg refuted claims that he knew the payment scheme to Iraq was illegal and in breach of UN rules.
But when asked by the senior counsel whether Mr Borlase's email was proof that AWB staff knew about human rights violations at a time when the Iraqi regime was getting money from AWB, Mr Lindberg replied: Well I hope that wasn't said in a serious way. I think it's open for you to draw that inference.
The senior counsel, John Agius, concluded by advising Mr Cole to consider the issue of whether or not it might be said that AWB and others might have committed an offence under the terrorism offences in the [Commonwealth] criminal code. The code recommends life imprisonment for people guilty of funding terrorism.
The Coles inquiry, which started in January, could take several more weeks to reach a final outcome. However, John Howard, the prime minister, on Friday conceded that another stunning email discussing the payments scheme to Iraq was certainly a very significant document.
Earlier this week, the official investigation unveiled documents suggesting AWB and the Iraqi authorities devised an elaborate scheme stretching across several companies and countries in order to transfer illegal payments as far back as 1999.