Australia oil-for-food inquiry to get statement from PM Lisl Brunner at 9:06 AM ET
[JURIST] Australian Prime Minister John Howard [official profile] said Monday that he will provide a statement [press release] to the judicial inquiry [Cole Commission official website] into Australia's involvement in the oil-for-food scandal [JURIST news archive], offering to appear before the panel if necessary. Led by retired judge Terence Cole [official profile], the inquiry began in November and has primarily focused on the Australian Wheat Board [corporate website], which allegedly paid $222 million in kickbacks to Saddam Hussein's government. Deputy Prime Minister Mark Vaile gave a statement on Monday and Foreign Minister Alexander Downer will appear on Tuesday. Downer has already told the media that no one from his department was involved or aware of the scandal. Meanwhile, the UN official responsible for managing the contracts with Iraq has criticized the ministers' claims [Australian report], saying that UN Resolution 661 [PDF text] requires all leaders to ensure that their countries did not transfer funds to Iraq.
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