[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Tuesday, 11 July 2006, 11:29 GMT 12:29 UK
AWB faces $1bn US farms lawsuit
Australian wheat for export is loaded on to a cargo train at Grain Corp's Moree receiving depot February 17, 2006 in Moree, Australia
Exports to Iraq play a major role in Australia's wheat industry
North American wheat farmers are seeking $1bn (540m) in damages from Australian wheat exporter AWB, claiming it has used corruption to win business.

They have filed a class action in Washington, using US anti-racketeering laws designed to fight organised crime.

AWB is accused of using bribery and corrupt means to win grain sales in Iraq, Yemen, Pakistan and Indonesia, at the expense of US and Canadian farmers.

AWB said it would "vigorously defend" any action brought against it.

UN inquiry

The Australian government has already initiated an investigation into AWB, following up claims that the exporter spent $220m bribing officials from Saddam Hussein's Iraqi government to secure $2.3bn of wheat contracts under the United Nations oil-for-food programme.

It has admitted to, and apologised for, the bribes.

The North American farmers have said that they will pursue their legal action using evidence obtained by the Australian inquiry and another undertaken by the UN.

Australian press reports said that the farmers' claim accused AWB of conspiring to use tactics including bank fraud, bribery and money laundering.

As well as the Iraq allegations, the claim says the company bribed officials in Yemen and Pakistan and sabotaged the Indonesian market to keep out US grain exports.

Six farmers are named on the class action, which has been filed against a US subsidiary of AWB.

Australian firm 'bribed Saddam'
18 May 06 |  Asia-Pacific
Howard breezes through bribes inquiry
14 Apr 06 |  Asia-Pacific
Downer 'unaware of bribe reports'
11 Apr 06 |  Asia-Pacific
Australia wins Iraqi wheat deal
03 Mar 06 |  Business
Iraq suspends dealings with AWB
13 Feb 06 |  Asia-Pacific
Q&A: Oil-for-food scandal
07 Sep 05 |  Middle East

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific