AWB Limited is a privately owned company that is the exclusive manager and marketer of all Australian bulk wheat exports. (AWB is the acronym derived from the pre-privatisiation name of the Australian Wheat Board).
Oil for Food, Lobbyists, and Corporate Profits
Prior to the October 2005 release of Paul Volcker's report on violations of the United Nations' Iraq oil-for-food program, the Australian wheat exporter AWB Limited hired the Washington DC lobbying firm The Cohen Group, which is headed by former U.S. defense secretary William S. Cohen. AWB paid approximately $A300 million in trucking fees on its wheat contracts to a Jordanian company, Alia, which owns no trucks. The funds were funnelled to Saddam Hussein's government, according to information given to an Australian government-appointed Royal Commission.
Last week, AWB Middle East Marketing Manager Chris Whitwell mentioned The Cohen Group when asked about diary entries related to "develop[ing] a communications strategy." Whitwell said "Chalabi - link to Alia" referred to Ahmed Chalabi, as "he and Alia have some issues." Stanley McDermott, a partner in the law firm DLA Piper Rudnick Gray Cary, which has a "strategic alliance" with The Cohen Group, has also advised AWB. 
In December 2005, AWB hired Peter Sandman to assist in handling the kickbacks crisis. According to testimony by AWB Secretary Richard Fuller, Mr Sandman's strategy was to "over apologise" and that he had drafted a letter to the Australian people doing so. AWB subsequently decided not to proceed with the strategy. 
AWB Lobbyists and PR Advisers
380 La Trobe Street
Melbourne 3000, Victoria, Australia
Phone: 61 3 9209 2000
Fax: 61 3 9670 2782
- Richard Baker, "Lobbyists hired by AWB", Sydney Morning Herald, February 22 2006.
- Gerard McManus, "AWB dumped apology plan", Herald Sun, March 25, 2006.
- David Marr, "AWB vows long legal fight to keep files secret", Sydney Morning Herald, May 31 2006.
- "AWB considered $91,000 spin plan", AAP, August 10, 2006.
- Leonie Wood, "Sorry is the hardest word for AWB", The Age, August 16, 2006.
- "PR guru warned AWB of 'evil' Saddam", The Age, August 22, 2006.
- Marian Wilkinson, "AWB kickbacks no big deal, Cole commission hears", Sydney Morning Herald, August 23, 2006.
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