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Key oil-for-food document missing

March 20, 2006 at 2:58 PM

CANBERRA, Australia, March 20 (UPI) -- A key document is missing in Australia's oil-for-food investigation that allegedly could prove the government knew about bribes paid to Iraq.

The Australian reports the document was in the files of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Canberra and had been signed by the department's Middle East envoy, Charles Stott. However, a former department official told investigators she did not remove the letter and denied seeing cables from the Australian mission to the United Nations outlining corruption at the Australian Wheat Board.

Australia's Cole commission began investigating charges the government knew Saddam Hussein was circumventing U.N. sanctions through the oil-for-food program after an investigation headed by former U.S. Treasurer Paul Volcker indicated the wheat board was involved. The wheat board is accused of funneling $290 million to Iraq leading up to the 2003 war through a Jordanian trucking company.

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