Police drops investigation in wheat for weapons scandal
The Australian Federal Police has quit its investigation into the AWB kickbacks in Iraq, after a legal review decided there was virtually no hope of prosecuting criminal charges against any of the board's former officers.
The AFP's decision to abandon Australia's highest-profile corruption probe leaves any future action in the hands of the corporate regulator, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission. ASIC has been running its own investigation for more than a year.
AFP Commissioner, Mick Keelty, said he took the decision after AFP requested in July a review of the investigation into AWB by Peter Hastings QC, who later advised that due to a range of factors “the prospects of a successful criminal prosecution were limited and not in the public interest.”
But senior lawyers believe it highly unlikely that even ASIC will pursue criminal charges against the former AWB executives, who helped funnel almost AUS$300 million to Saddam Hussein's regime in breach of United Nations sanctions.
AWB circumvented UN rules on its oil-for-food program for at least four years by disguising the kickbacks as fees it paid to a trucking company.
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