Prior to the October 2005 release of Paul Volcker's report on violations of the United Nations' Iraq oil-for-food program, the Australian wheat exporter AWB Limited hired the Washington DC lobbying firm The Cohen Group, which is headed by former U.S. defense secretary William S. Cohen. AWB paid approximately $A300 million in trucking fees on its wheat contracts to a Jordanian company, Alia, which owns no trucks. The funds were funnelled to Saddam Hussein's government, according to information given to an Australian government-appointed Royal Commission. Last week, AWB Middle East Marketing Manager Chris Whitwell mentioned The Cohen Group when asked about diary entries related to "develop[ing] a communications strategy." Whitwell said "Chalabi - link to Alia" referred to Ahmed Chalabi, as "he and Alia have some issues." Stanley McDermott, a partner in the law firm DLA Piper Rudnick Gray Cary, which has a "strategic alliance" with The Cohen Group, has also advised AWB.
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