Oil-for-food director fined
A former managing director of a wheat exporter has been fined A$100,000 (US$106,000) and banned from being a company director for two years for his role in paying U$200 million in kickbacks to Iraq’s former regime under the discredited UN oil-for-food program. Andrew Lindberg, former head of the now defunct monopoly wheat exporter AWB Ltd, was yesterday sentenced for breaches of corporate law. It was part of a plea deal with corporate regulator Australian Securities and Investments Commission that ends a case that began in 2007.
Gunmen kill soldiers, child
Gunmen believed to be followers of a local political warlord killed three soldiers in an ambush in the south that also left a child dead, the military said yesterday. The soldiers were aboard a military truck on routine security patrol in the mainly Muslim city of Marawi when they were attacked on Wednesday night, regional army battalion commander Colonel Daniel Lucero said. He said the ambush triggered a 30-minute gunbattle, during which three soldiers were killed and 10 wounded. A child aboard a vehicle that was caught in the crossfire was also killed, while three civilians were wounded, the army said. Lucero said the men behind the attack were believed to be members of a private militia controlled by a local political warlord he did not name.
Bel sorry over gaffe
For a company that produces a cheese called The Laughing Cow, its sense of humor seemed in poor taste. The processed cheese giant Bel has narrowly avoided a mass boycott by shoppers after a supposedly humorous summer promotion was slammed as offensive to people with learning difficulties. With its famous Mini Babybel — round, red wax-covered processed cheeses ubiquitous in lunchboxes worldwide — the company was giving away ink stamps for children. One read: “Des vacances de malade mental,” meaning loosely “having a mental holiday” or literally “holidaying like a mentally ill person.” Associations for parents of children with learning disabilities immediately expressed outrage and threatened a boycott of the company and all its products. Company director Etienne Lecomte told Le Parisien he profusely apologized for the “extremely clumsy” campaign.
Underground sect found
Seventy members of an Islamist sect who have been living in an underground bunker without heat or sunlight for nearly a decade have been discovered living on the outskirts of the city of Kazan, local media said. The sect members included 20 children, the youngest of whom had just turned 18 months. Many of them were born underground and had never seen daylight until the prosecutors discovered their dwelling on Aug. 1 and sent them for health checks. A 17-year-old girl turned out to be pregnant. The group — known as the “Fayzrahmanist” sect — was named after its 83-year-old organizer Fayzrahman Satarov, who declared himself a prophet and his house an independent Islamic state, according to a report by state TV channel Vesti. Satarov was described as a former deputy to a Sunni Islamic cleric in the 1970s. His followers were encouraged to read his manuscripts and most were banned from leaving their eight-story underground bunker, Vesti said. Prosecutors have opened a criminal investigation into the sect. No arrests have been made although police are likely to look into suspicions that some of the children were being abused.