AWB trial turns spotlight on regulator

Milanda Rout; 24/11/09

The nation’s corporate regulator has come under scrutiny over its investigation of the Iraqi kickbacks scandal, with a senior fraud officer admitting in the civil trial of former AWB chief Andrew Lindberg that it did little for six months while on a joint taskforce set up to examine the affair. Australian Securities and Investment Commission fraud manager Brendan Caridi told the Victorian Supreme Court yesterday that nine full-time officers were assigned to work with the Australian Federal Police on the AWB scandal in 2007 following recommendations from the Cole royal Commission. But he said under cross-examination from Mr Lindberg’s counsel, David Collins, that the ASIC had “limited resources”, the officers involved were reporting to the AFP, and not a lot of inquiries were made in the six months that followed. “During that period (February to August 2007), very little investigation activities occurred,” he said. “No witnesses were interviewed, no material from the Prime Minister and Cabinet was obtained … which led to ASIC making a decision in August to withdraw its staff and conduct its own investigation.”