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Incriminating e-mail appears to be forgery

POLICE said yesterday that an e-mail allegedly incriminating Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd of unfairly providing political favors for friends appeared to be a forgery.

The police investigation began over the weekend, when newspapers published an e-mail purported to be from a Rudd adviser asking a Treasury official to give priority to a credit application by the prime minister's friend, car dealer John Grant.

Opposition lawmakers said the e-mail was proof that Rudd misled Parliament when he said his office did not help Grant in his quest for a government loan.

Detectives yesterday examined computers at Treasury offices and at the Canberra home of the Treasury official, Godwin Grech, who manages a government fund established to help financially distressed car dealers, police said in a statement.

Grech claimed last week that the prime minister's office had first drawn his attention to Grant's application for credit from the A$2 billion (US$1.6 billion) fund.

Rudd and Treasurer Wayne Swan denied that was true.

Grech told a Senate inquiry last Friday that he was first alerted to Grant's case by an e-mail from Rudd's office, but he said he could find no record of that e-mail and conceded that his recollection could be wrong.

Last Saturday, News Corp newspapers in Australia published the e-mail, which the government called a fake. The government asked police to mount a fraud investigation.

"Preliminary results of those forensic examinations indicate that the e-mail referred to at the center of the investigation has been created by a person or persons other than the purported author of the e-mail," yesterday's police statement said.

Grant, who gave Rudd a secondhand pickup truck to use for campaigning and once sold Swan a car, has not been granted a loan from the government fund.


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