Former AWB boss fined, banned
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MELBOURNE, Aug 9 AAP
August 09 2012, 1:43PM
Former AWB managing director Andrew Lindberg has been fined $100,000 and banned from managing companies for two years over the Iraqi kickbacks scandal.
Victorian Supreme Court Justice Ross Robson handed down the punishment on Thursday after Mr Lindberg struck a deal with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), ending an investigation that began in 2007.
Mr Lindberg admitted to four breaches of the Corporations Act by failing to tell the board of the AWB or the United Nations about bribes paid to Saddam Hussein's Iraqi government between 2000 and 2005 to secure wheat sales.
Justice Robson said while Mr Lindberg's infringements weren't deliberate, they were serious.
"None of the contraventions involve deliberate wrongful acts, dishonesty or any moral turpitude," he said.
"Nevertheless, Mr Lindberg failed to perform his duties as a reasonable director or officer would in his situation. I find that the breaches of the act were serious."
Outside court, Mr Lindberg said he accepted the court's penalty and the consequences of his actions.
"It's been a long ordeal, six-and-a-half years," he told reporters.
"I've never resiled from my responsibilities and I don't do it now. I just want to get on with my life and do what I can."
He warned care was needed when trading offshore.
"In any market, but particularly overseas, when you deal with the third-world countries I think you've got to be very careful," he said.
"It's perhaps easier than you think to make mistakes."
Mr Lindberg admitted failing to tell the AWB board that former AWB employees likely to have information "relevant to the allegations of impropriety" were not being interviewed for the company's internal investigation, dubbed Project Rose.
The court heard he also failed to tell the board that the UN Independent Inquiry Committee's 2005 Volcker inquiry into the oil-for-food program had heard allegations the AWB was among companies that had paid kickbacks to Iraq.
ASIC proceedings against five other former AWB officers over the scandal continue.
In June, it struck a deal with former AWB chief financial officer Paul Ingleby, who has agreed to a $40,000 fine and a 15-month ban from corporate management in exchange for admitting breaches of duty to the company.
The Supreme Court has reserved its decision on the matter.
Mr Lindberg resigned as the AWB's managing director following the 2006 Cole inquiry into the scandal.
By Carl Dickens