Michael Pascoe writes:

If the Cole inquiry is on, the AWB
share price must be falling – and for the fifth day in a row, it is.
This is a company looking more and more like a governance and
management basketcase, and now AWB chief Andrew Lindberg might have
potential criminal charges to worry about, as well as trying to
remember what day it is.

AWB shares touched a low of $5.21 and were off 27 cents at $5.25 coming up to midday, but as Bryan Frith points out in the Oz,
whoever released Wednesday’s unauthorised-but-not-denied statement to
the ASX could be considering up to five years’ jail if they have
breached the Corporations Act.

Section 1309 makes it an offence for an officer of a
company to provide information that is false or misleading “in a
material particular” to the operator of a financial market, such as the
ASX. The offence also covers the omission of material information; and
it is a criminal offence.

If the officer knew the information
provided to the exchange was incorrect – that is, it was deliberate –
the maximum penalty is a fine of $22,000 or five years’ jail, or both.

penalty is less if the offence was due to negligence – that is, the
officer didn’t take reasonable steps to ensure it was correct. In that
case the maximum penalty is $11,000 or two years’ jail, or both.

also the question of whether AWB, and perhaps some senior executives,
breached the Commonwealth Criminal Code by failing to comply with an
international treaty that prevents payment of bribes to foreign
officials. Australia is a signatory to the treaty.

Bribery is
one of the few offences for which Australians can be held accountable
if it is committed outside Australia. Paedophilia is another.

summarised, Frithy. Amidst all the amnesia and “don’t recalls” by
Lindberg, there have been enough admissions to make that dodgy
statement of total AWB innocence look very misleading indeed.

And, as we mentioned yesterday, just standby for the ambulance chasers thinking about getting up a shareholders’ class action.