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PM denies wrongdoing in OzCar row

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has continued to deny that he or his office tried to help Ipswich car dealer John Grant secure a government-backed loan.

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Speaking to reporters late on Friday, Mr Rudd disputed evidence given by a Treasury official to a Senate inquiry that his office had contacted Godwin Grech regarding Mr Grant, who is a friend and neighbour of the prime minister.

However, Mr Rudd has asked the auditor-general to investigate the matter.

Opposition email claims

Restating his previous denials to parliament, Mr Rudd said: “As of now, I have no basis before me which changes that position.”

The opposition has suggested Mr Rudd’s senior economic adviser Andrew Charlton wrote to Mr Grech, who runs the government’s OzCar scheme providing car financing, to lobby on behalf of Mr Grant.

But Mr Rudd said there was no evidence his adviser had emailed Mr Grech and Dr Charlton denied having sent such an email.

Searches by the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet (PMC) and Treasury of Dr Charlton’s computer and the system of the public service had found nothing.

‘No such correspondence’

“There have been exhaustive searches conducted on Dr Charlton’s computer email system and no such correspondence can be found,” Mr Rudd said.

Mr Rudd noted that during his evidence Mr Grech had indicated his recollection could be wrong.

“The public servant in question said this afternoon that he believed he had an email communication from Dr Andrew Charlton of my office making representations on behalf of Mr Grant,” he said.

“I also note that the public servant … said: `My recollection might be totally false’ … that is a big qualification,” Mr Rudd said.

He also noted that the public servant had indicated he didn’t have the email in question.

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