WHILE Many farmers may believe that paying commissions to Middle Eastern countries is just the way business is done there, Narrikup sheep meat processor, Roger Fletcher, says that's not the case.
With evidence of kickbacks and bribes paid to Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq, and other countries like Pakistan, emerging on a daily basis during the Cole inquiry, Mr Fletcher said farmers needed to know that this sort of behaviour was not a necessary evil in securing trade of any goods or produce to Middle Eastern countries.
As Australia's largest exporter of sheep meat, and one of the country's biggest traders into the Middle East, Mr Fletcher said Fletcher International would do more direct trade into that region (with the exception of Iraq) than would anyone else.
He has never been asked to pay a commission ‹ and wouldn't if he were.
"We don't do any deals with governments,² Mr Fletcher said.
"We deal directly with individual companies.
"We wouldn't start paying bribes, because once you start, you'll never be able to stop.
"The person who allowed the first bribe to be paid by AWB is where their problem started."
Mr Fletcher said there was more pressure on private companies to pay commissions to overseas agents, and AWB should have used its transparency as a publicly listed company to say "No".
"That is not how business has to be done at all, and it gives the perception that Australian companies are just jingling with money,² he said.
"Trading in the Middle East is a tough market. You just can't afford to be giving anything away."