Spinning an Iraq Oil Kickbacks Confession

Faced with a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the payment of approximately $A300 million in kickbacks to Saddam Hussein's government, in breach of the United Nations' Iraq Oil-for-Food Program, the Australian wheat trader AWB Limited hired crisis management guru Peter Sandman to help it draft an apology. The Australian inquiry released e-mails between Sandman and AWB, which reveal that Sandman's proposed confessional statement was watered down by ABW's other PR adviser, Ian Smith from Gavin Anderson & Company. "The less you blame yourself, the more the public will blame you. You aren't blaming yourself nearly enough in this draft," Sandman wrote in one e-mail. Sandman's original three-page statement was eventually pared back to only one page. However, AWB executives decided not to make a public apology at all. The inquiry resumes public hearings in two weeks.