Media release from the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

D02 - 7 February 2006

Allegations Made Before Cole Commission

The Department refutes allegations made by Mr Stott concerning Alia and DFAT.

DFAT never approved AWB's use of Alia.

DFAT has no documentary record and relevant officers have no recollection of being advised about the AWB's use of Alia in the context of the Jane Drake-Brockman letter exchange.

Furthermore, DFAT has no record, nor do relevant officers, have any recollection, of being asked to conduct or conducting any due diligence on Alia. It is not the normal practice of DFAT to conduct due diligence for private companies.

It should also be remembered that the Cole hearings and Volcker have identified that the AWB was using Alia for almost a year prior to the October-November 2000 letter exchange with DFAT (which referred to Jordanian trucking companies, and not specifically to Alia).

DFAT did not approve the Tigris donation/debt repayment deal. DFAT's advice has been clear and consistent with the UN Sanctions regime.

The Government has set up the Cole Commission. The Department is cooperating fully with it, and all these matters are being considered by it. The Department shall refute these allegations fully when it is before the Commission.

Media enquiries: Matt Anderson, DFAT Media Liaison, (02) 6261 1555.