AWB CFO Admits to Iraq Payments

The former CFO of Australia’s AWB has admitted to authorising payments to Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi government.

According to a report in the Herald Sun, Paul John Ingleby, aged 60, admitted he failed to “join the dots” and question payments disguised as inland transport fees before approving the transactions which ultimately went to Hussein’s regime.

The Victoria Supreme Court heard that Mr Ingleby had agreed to civil penalties for failing to undertake his duties with due care and diligence between December 2001 and September 2004.

He is now likely to face a $40,000 fine and a 15-month suspension from managing a company.

Mr Ingleby received a series of internal emails over the three years which raised questions of the legitimacy of payments to Jordanian trucking company Alia, but he failed to highlight anomalies to the board and co-authorised those payments under contracts for the sale of wheat to Iraq.

Michael Colbran, QC, for the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), said Mr Ingleby was not accused of deliberate wrongdoing.

“What we complain of is that Mr Ingleby, with the benefit of the information given to him, ought to have joined the dots,” Mr Colbran said.

Michael Abbott, QC, representing Mr Ingleby, said his client’s “sin of omission” should be viewed within the context of his workload and the management structure of AWB.

He said the relevant emails represented “a handful of documents compared to the huge volume of documents that come across his desk”.

Mr Abbott said Mr Ingleby signed off on payments which had already been authorised by the relevant manager.

“Mr Ingleby’s role was not to second guess or supervise the role of other executive officers,” he told the court.

He said Mr Ingleby’s reputation had been damaged through media coverage which branded him one of the “dirty dozen” during the 2006 Cole inquiry into the AWB scandal.

Justice Ross Robson will rule on the draft settlement at a date to be determined.

(Source: Herald Sun)

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