What a pity for Graham Richardson that he wasn’t a great mate of Saddam Hussein instead of Rene Rivkin. Richo’s copped another tax assessment from the ATO over his dubious Bank Leumi dealings while the ATO has OKed the tax deductibility of AWB’s $290 million Iraq kickbacks.

Yes, folks, it turns out funding Saddam was like giving money to any other charity and that’s fine with Treasurer-never-to-be-PM Pete Costello and the Australian stock market – the battered AWB share price has rallied 12% on the news.

There is a curious aspect to Dollar Sweetie’s reaction to the ATO decision. As the Smage reports:

Mr Costello said while he believed no tax deductions should be given for bribes, the ATO investigation had been bound by the Cole inquiry’s findings.

“If the Cole inquiry had found that they were bribes it would have recommended that they be prosecuted for bribes,” he told reporters.

“Apparently it didn’t. I accept the Cole inquiry. I’ll have to read carefully what the tax office has said but the probabilities are they’re bound by the Cole inquiry as well.”

How very convenient that would be for the government – we all just have to be bound by the Cole findings. It’s also nonsense. Cole doesn’t bind anybody or thing – he merely recommends further action by other parties. And remember that the further action is being run by Phil Ruddock’s office.

The Americans are not nearly as forgiving. Unlike the Australian government, they seem to have some sort of problem dealing with criminal organisations. AWB dismisses it as a token gesture, but overnight the US Department of Agriculture banned AWB and 11 former employees from US Government programs.

Turns out the mighty Australian wheat trade warriors had used some of the USDA export credit guarantee programs. Wonder if they paid Washington any trucking fees.