The U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced that AWB, Ltd., formerly known as the Australian Wheat Board, has been barred from using USDA export promotion programs to export agricultural goods for the next two years. The ruling is in response to the scandal that was investigated in 2006 of kickbacks, bribes and illegal payments to former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein under the Oil for Food program.
When the wheat board's actions were confirmed in December 2006, USDA suspended the board from using any U.S. government commodity procurements or other program such as loan-guarantees and proposed a ban. The debarment of AWB, Ltd. became effective this week for two years.
"We took a careful look at the evidence, afforded AWB due process and came to a decision that was in the best interest of the U.S government and taxpayers to debar this organization for a period of time," says USDA spokesperson Keith Williams. "The administrative law judge took an independent look and affirmed that decision."
Also announced this week was that six former executives of AWB will face more than 72 criminal charges in court this summer.