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Something is rotten within Austrade: Fire Power connection with AWB bribes, connected to spooky world of DFAT-connected energy intelligence

Posted by gasweek on 9 October, 2007

Kelvin Thomson, Shadow Minister for Public Accountability, Member for Wills, Australian Labor Party, House of Representatives, Commonwealth, said 20 September 2007. “Something is rotten within Austrade”. TPS Firepower Pty Ltd of Australia received four export market grants between 2002-03 and 2005-06, totalling over $394,000. Firepower CEO was previously Regional Manager for Europe, Middle East and Africa, Mr John Finnin, was a person who negotiated the sanction-breaking and wheat for oil deal with Iraq. Firepower now faced prosecution buy ASIC and the Western Australian government. John Finnin had a top secret security clearance.

Please explain, Mr Vaile: Thomson said “Minister Vaile, who is the minister responsible for Austrade, the government’s trade agency, needs to explain to the parliament and to the Australian people how much his former Regional Manager for Europe, Middle East and Africa, Mr John Finnin, knew about AWB’s payment of kickbacks to Saddam Hussein using the Jordanian trucking company Alia to circumvent United Nations sanctions. Finnin was one of the persons who floated – with government aid – listed company which sold mothballs as petrol additive. Finnin, was the Austrade manager – who – negotiated with along with the former director of the Iraqi Grains Board and the family which owned 51 per cent of Alia.

Head of Firepower was deep in AWB gross-out: Thomson said ” I say this because an email of 23 September 2003 from Austrade’s manager in Jordan refers to a meeting he attended with Mr Finnin, along with the former director of the Iraqi Grains Board and the family which owned 51 per cent of Alia.

Did DFAT lie Cole inquiry? : “The email says that the final AWB contracts, which included the notorious Tigris Petroleum payment, were discussed at this meeting. This meeting makes a joke of Minister Vaile’s claim that the government knew nothing of Alia until the Volcker inquiry was established in 2004. The government says the Cole inquiry has dealt with the AWB scandal. It has done no such thing. The 2003 meeting at no time figured in testimony at the Cole inquiry”.

Please, please explain: “The Cole report made no mention of it. Neither of the Austrade officials, John Finnin or Ramzi Maaytah, even appeared at the Cole inquiry. Can Minister Vaile explain why John Finnin did not appear before the Cole inquiry? Indeed, after Richard Baker in the Age raised Mr Finnin’s links with Alia in November last year, Mr Finnin suddenly went overseas for a week. His non-appearance is a glaring omission in the work of the Cole inquiry.

Thomson said “John Finnin and Mr Maaytah left Austrade in July last year. Mr Finnin became the chief executive of the company Firepower. Firepower had done pretty well out of Austrade. TPS Firepower Pty Ltd of Australia received four export market grants between 2002-03 and 2005-06, totalling over $394,000. This would not be so troubling if Firepower was actually developing export markets. In fact, it has not been selling anything much at all”.

Mothball magnate:” It did start selling its Firepower pill in Western Australia, which led to the Western Australian Department of Fair Trading launching a prosecution. Firepower then removed its pills from the service stations which were selling them.

Heard in the Federal Court on 16 October: Austrade’s grants to Firepower would not be so troubling if it were not the case that Firepower is also being prosecuted by ASIC. I understand that matter is being heard in the Federal Court on 16 October. Austrade’s grants to Firepower would not be so troubling if the tax office were not pursuing it as well.

Austrade chiefs peel off to join Firepower: Austrade’s grants to Firepower would not be so troubling if it were not the case that not only John Finnin but also two other Austrade officials have gone off to work for Firepower—Robert Boylan and the former head of Austrade in Russia, Gregory Klumov.

Untrue claims: Austrade’s grants to Firepower would not be so troubling if Firepower’s claim that its products are used by the armed forces of Australia and New Zealand had any truth to it. Austrade’s grants to Firepower would be less troubling if ASIC had any record of a company called Firepower Group Pty Ltd, the company Austrade says is an export success story in Russia.

$1 company registered in the Virgin islands: Austrade’s grants to Firepower would be less troubling if the Firepower company that is listed in the phone book, Firepower Operations Pty Ltd, were not a $1 company, first registered in December 2004, in turn owned by a company with an address in the Virgin Islands.

Peter Shergold and Finnin mateship: “I have been told that earlier this year John Finnin, in the aftermath of adverse media publicity, rang no less a person than the secretary of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, Peter Shergold. The question here is: how does John Finnin know Peter Shergold? Does it relate to Mr Finnin’s knowledge of AWB’s Alia contracts and the kickbacks to Saddam Hussein? What did Mr Finnin say to Mr Shergold? Were the details of this conversation passed on to the Prime Minister? They may well not have been. Under this government it has become the job of the departmental head to make sure information is not passed on to ministers and prime ministers”.

John Finnin had a top secret security clearance:“But something is definitely rotten in Austrade, and Minister Vaile has a lot of explaining to do. The Minister for Foreign Affairs might also give us an explanation. He should tell us why his department rang Firepower to demand that a press release Firepower had put out saying John Finnin had a top secret security clearance from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade be changed to say that the clearance was from Austrade. Did that department know something about John Finnin which meant they wanted it to be crystal clear that it was Austrade not them who had cleared Mr Finnin? If so, what was it, and did they inform Austrade of their concerns? This is just the latest chapter in a monumental and ongoing cover-up of the AWB scandal and the role of the government’s trade agency Austrade in it”.

Reference: Kelvin Thomson, Shadow Minister for Public Accountability, Member for Wills, Australian Labor Party, House of Representatives, Commonwealth, 20 September 2007.

Erisk Net, 7/10/2007

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One Response to “Something is rotten within Austrade: Fire Power connection with AWB bribes, connected to spooky world of DFAT-connected energy intelligence”

  1. […] Here’s a piece on Gas Week that asks, among other things, why almost $400,000 of Australian taxpayers’ money seems to have been handed over to these people. And here’s Gerard Ryle, the Herald journalist, summing up the story as it stood early last year, on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s Science Show. Firepower’s science doesn’t seem to have moved on in the interim. […]

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