AWB Limited (AWB) understands that the Independent Inquiry Committee (IIC) into the United Nations (UN), Oil For Food (OFF) Program, will overnight deliver its final report in which it will make findings about the company.
AWB fully co-operated with the IIC investigation, and made submissions to the IIC.
It is expected these findings will comment on AWB’s use of a transport company for the delivery of its wheat to inland Iraq during the OFF Program. During the OFF Program, AWB delivered nearly 12 million tonnes of wheat, under UN approved contracts, as part of the international effort to avoid a humanitarian crisis in Iraq. About 7.8 million tonnes of the wheat involved an inland transport component.
AWB was one of many vendors required to enter into transport arrangements under OFF contracts approved by the UN.
AWB did not knowingly pay or enter into any arrangements to pay monies to the former regime.
AWB relied on the UN to supervise and regulate the OFF Program. There was a 10 step contract approval process established by the UN. Each AWB contract went through this process and was approved.
Commencing in June 1999, the Iraqi Grain Board (IGB) invited offers for wheat sales on contract terms that incorporated, for the first time, a price component for inland transport. Thereafter a contract term and price providing for wheat deliveries to inland Iraq was included in all contracts approved by the UN. The IGB nominated the transport company to be used for AWB wheat.
The inland transport terms were consistent with an undertaking given by Iraq to the UN guaranteeing the equitable distribution of foodstuffs and with UN resolutions authorizing payments in connection with foodstuffs in humanitarian circumstances. The IIC’s September 2005 report reveals that the UN’s Office of Legal Affairs did not view inland transport terms to contravene the sanctions resolutions.
The payment of the trucking fees occurred entirely in circumstances condoned by the responsible UN Committee. As the IIC’s September report revealed, the Committee considered the general question of trucking fees in April 2001. Not only did the UN Committee take no action, it continued to approve contracts which contained inland transport terms.
The UN did not inform AWB that the transport arrangements may breach the UN OFF guidelines. Clearly the UN did not adequately oversee the OFF Program.
AWB’s ongoing commitment to supply wheat in difficult circumstances throughout the OFF Program was one of the Program’s major successes in avoiding a humanitarian crisis.
AWB may make a further statement after reviewing the IIC’s report.