As the highly publicised government inquiry into allegations that the Australian Wheat Board (AWB) paid kickbacks to Saddam Hussein’s regime continues, the AWB has announced the resignation of managing director Andrew Lindberg.

In a statement released yesterday (9 February), AWB, which has monopoly control of Australian wheat exports, said that Lindberg had tendered his resignation and the board accepted, feeling it was in the best interests of the board.

No explanation for Lindberg’s departure was given. “It is inappropriate to respond to allegations or the evidence given to the Cole Inquiry prior to the completion of the inquiry,” the AWB said.

One of the first to give evidence at the government hearing, Lindburg had repeatedly told the Cole Inquiry that he had no knowledge of, or could not remember, details of payments that were allegedly channelled to the deposed Iraqi regime.

Into the breach will step AWB chairman Brendan Stewart, who will become executive chairman, while Peter Polson has been appointed acting CEO. “The board will take all necessary steps to protect AWB and to restore its reputation,” the AWB said.