Wednesday 17th of April 2024

Senior Democrat Senator Calls For US AWB Probe, AWB Says Bribes Tax Deductible

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The top Democrat on the U.S. Senate
Agriculture Committee on Tuesday called for a probe into the Australian
Wheat Board's alleged violations of the United Nations oil for food
program, saying the Bush administration had not heeded the concerns of
America's wheat farmers.

Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa wrote to the
U.S. Agriculture Department Inspector General seeking an independent
review after letters to Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns and U.S.
Trade Representative Rob Portman earlier this year failed to produce
any action, a spokesman for Harkin's office said.

kickbacks lined the pockets of Saddam Hussein and continued after the
fall of his government. That money should have gone to feed hungry
Iraqis through the U.N. oil for food program," Harkin said in a

"We need to find out who benefited from these kickbacks and
whether there's a way to recover the funds and return them to the Iraqi

Harkin asked Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns in
January to reinstate a ban on AWB from USDA's export credit programs.
In April, the senator asked Portman to probe whether the AWB had
violated U.S. trade law or World Trade Organization rules.

have not seen any movement on any of the time is right for an
independent investigation," Dave Townsend, Harkin's spokesman and
Democratic press secretary for the Senate Agriculture Committee, told


Meanwhile, back in Australia 

[from The Age]

Releasing AWB's half-year profit figures yesterday, chief
financial officer Paul Ingleby said the Australian Tax Office was
reviewing AWB's accounts and the company was co-operating.

"There is a lot of commentary and so much of it is so uninformed
that it amazes me," Mr Ingleby said. "The ATO in its ordinary
course is conducting a risk review. We are co-operating with that,
but all our advice is that these payments are deductible."

The Tax Office declined to comment.


Less reason to know

In Intelligence Czar Can Waive SEC Rules:

President George W. Bush has bestowed on his intelligence czar, John Negroponte, broad authority, in the name of national security, to excuse publicly traded companies from their usual accounting and securities-disclosure obligations. Notice of the development came in a brief entry in the Federal Register, dated May 5, 2006, that was opaque to the untrained eye. ...

... A trip to the statute books showed that the amended version of the 1934 act states that "with respect to matters concerning the national security of the United States," the President or the head of an Executive Branch agency may exempt companies from certain critical legal obligations. These obligations include keeping accurate "books, records, and accounts" and maintaining "a system of internal accounting controls sufficient" to ensure the propriety of financial transactions and the preparation of financial statements in compliance with "generally accepted accounting principles."


saving corporate cowboys .....

Yes Richard ….. 

Junior bushit must have been
swatting-up on the antics of his predecessor, “tricky dicky” ….. 

Obviously such decisions would
have nothing at all to do with embarrassing events such as the conviction of
the Enron chiefs, Kenneth Lay & Jeffrey Skilling for one of biggest
corporate frauds in US history? 

By “excusing” his corporate
cowboy mates from having to maintain & publish accounts, our little
rodent’s pin-up boy provides the gangs that run outfits like Enron, WorldCom
& Adelphia with a perfect & permanent “stay out of jail” card, whilst
they bilk billions from dumb American mums & dads & finagle further
changes to regulatory requirements that might hinder their get rich quick schemes. 

And, in return, his cowboy mates
will doubtless continue to “oil” junior’s political machine, just as his
long-time family friend, “Kenny-boy” Lay, did. 

What was the name of that Reserve
Bank Director again …..???

lessons in business 101 .....

AWB US Tax Issue Interest

Just a note on how hits can happen.   Over a thousand of the hits to this entry occurred within 24 hours.   It seems the notions piqued the curiosity of a few readers on a couple of continents.

At the time if you googled AWB Tax it was one of the first entries.

The price of rotten fish or oily wheat

From the ABC

AWB vows to fight any kickback law suits
Wheat exporter AWB says it will fight any legal action launched by American farmers in the wake of the oil-for-food scandal.

Reports suggest the company could face a billion-dollar lawsuit claiming US wheat growers lost trade with Iraq when AWB paid almost $300 million in kickbacks to Saddam Hussein's regime.

The ABC understands the initial case may cover just 20 or so farmers but has the potential to see thousands of US and Canadian farmers join them.

If the action is successful, it could see AWB forced to make a payout triple the value of the kickbacks.

But US Wheat Associates knows nothing of the proposed legal suit at this stage.

AWB spokesperson Peter McBride says AWB would fight any such legal suit.

"Such actions are ill-conceived and if any action is formally brought against AWB we will vigorously defend," he said.

The ABC understands that it is hard to argue the case that US farmers were hurt by AWB kickbacks, because the US had sanctions against trading with Iraq.

read more at the ABC

Cotton farmers' hard times in India...

From Al Jazeera

India tries to stem farmers' suicide

Friday 30 June 2006, 11:27 Makka Time, 8:27 GMT

The Indian prime minister has begun a two-day tour of India's main cotton belt where hundreds of farmers facing crippling debts and falling prices have committed suicide

During the visit, Manmohan Singh was expected to announce a relief package of 40 billion rupees ($865 million) directed at waiving off loans, improving irrigation and encouraging diversified farming, newspaper reports said.

The tour will take him to the Vidarbha region of western Maharashtra state, where he will meet families of farmers who have ended their lives.

Federal government officials say more than 8,900 farmers have committed suicide since 2001 in four states hardest hit by an ongoing agricultural crisis, including 980 in Maharashtra alone.

The number has been dismissed as far too low by activists and, according to a state government-backed report, more than 4,100 farmers ended their lives in Maharashtra in 2004 alone.

Tumbling prices

Rights activists say farmers are being driven to commit suicide by mounting debts - loan sharks demand up to 120% annual interest - failed harvests and the tumbling price of cotton, the region's main crop.