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U.S. farmers file class action against AWB
WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S. — Wheat farmers from the United States (U.S.) on April 16 filed a class action lawsuit in federal district court in New York City, New York, U.S. against AWB Limited and its U.S. subsidiary, AWB (U.S.A.) Limited.

From 1999 until 2003, AWB allegedly paid bribes and kickbacks to the Saddam Hussein regime in exchange for exclusive contracts for wheat sales under the United Nations’ "Oil for Food Program" and to keep its competition out of the Iraqi market. As a result, American farmers say they were stuck with an oversupply of wheat during that period, which depressed the prices at which they could sell their wheat.

The complaint focuses on farmers who produced hard red winter wheat ("HRW") during the relevant period. HRW wheat accounts for about 40% of total U.S. production and is grown by more than 100,000 farmers, primarily in the Great Plains, including Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado, Wyoming, South Dakota and Montana. The lawsuit invokes the federal antitrust and civil RICO laws to force AWB and its U.S. subsidiary to compensate American farmers for the damages they suffered.

The lawsuit is based largely on the findings of two independent investigations into AWB's conduct during the Oil for Food Program. The United Nations completed an 18-month investigation in October 2005, finding that AWB was the single-largest source of kickbacks in the manipulation of the U.S.$60 billion Oil for Food Program. The findings of the U.N. investigation were verified and further detailed by an Australian government investigation completed in November 2006.

"Wheat is a commodity market where price effects are globally-related," said Benjamin Brown, a partner at Cohen, Milstein, Hausfeld & Toll, PLLC, which is representing the plaintiff farmers. "AWB knew that, by paying these bribes, it would profit at the direct expense of American farmers — its only real competition in the Iraqi market. Unfortunately, AWB achieved its monopoly in the Iraqi market not through fair competition, but by deceiving the United Nations into unwittingly funding Hussein's corrupt regime. There has been a great deal of talk on Capitol Hill, and in the wheat farming community, about the damage inflicted on U.S. farmers by AWB's conduct."
MGR Archive 18.4.2007
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Region Type Price  
Russia Rapan $ 700
USA Jupiter Rice $630
USA Calrose #1 $830
USA Calrose #1 Paddy $480
EU Prices Baldo €660
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