The scale of its effort is made clear in draft lists of documents filed recently with the Federal Court. AWB wants commissioner Terence Cole, QC, barred from seeing 1304 of its internal documents because, according to AWB, they contain advice from lawyers.
Mr Cole is examining if AWB broke Australian laws when it paid $290 million of kickbacks to Saddam Hussein’s regime. He already has 450 folders containing 400,000 pages of documents about AWB’s Iraqi dealings, 281 witness statements and some 6800 pages of transcript from public hearings.
But the six draft lists on the court file contain brief descriptions of documents AWB retains, and they offer some intriguing insights into the wheat exporter’s legal strategy.
One shows that on September 29, 2005 — just three weeks before the UN’s Volcker inquiry published its final report describing AWB’s role in the Iraqi oil-for-food kickbacks scandal — a US lawyer retained by AWB, Stanley McDermott of DLA Piper Rudnick Gray Cary, sent emails to AWB “attaching points for Foreign Minister (Alexander) Downer to discuss with (US) Secretary of State (Condoleezza) Rice”.