Class action filed against AWB in Iraq wheat case
Sydney, September 14, 2007
AWB Ltd, Australia's main wheat exporter, said on Friday a new class action had been filed against it and its US subsidiary in a US district court by lawyers acting for Iraqi citizens.
The action, which also names French bank BNP Paribas as a defendant, alleges that the defendants contributed to injuries and damages sustained by the plaintiffs by giving substantial assistance to the former government of Saddam Hussein, AWB said in statement.
The damages alleged to have been suffered by the plaintiffs are unspecified, AWB said. The action had not yet been served on AWB, but if served it would be vigorously defended, it said.
AWB was found by an Australian judicial inquiry last year to have paid kickbacks of $222 million to Saddam's government to secure sales.
AWB also said on Friday that it had separately lodged with the US District Court a motion to dismiss a class action taken against it by a group of US wheat growers.
US wheat farmers sued AWB earlier this year, accusing the exporter of conspiring to keep exclusive contracts for wheat.
AWB said it will also shortly lodge a motion to dismiss a separate class action also being taken against it and BNP Paribas by plaintiffs who are allegedly residents of the three northern governorates of Iraq.
AWB also said it had lodged its defence against another action against it in Australia's federal court, in which plaintiffs are claiming damages for alleged non-disclosure of material information.
The action would also continue to be vigorously defended, AWB said. - Reuters