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A timeline of the Saudi sheep scandal

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 2/11/2016

THE AUDITOR-GENERAL HAS RELEASED A REPORT FINDING NO CORRUPTION IN THE SAUDI SHEEP DEAL BUT SAYING THE PROCESS HAD SIGNIFICANT FAULTS. HERE'S HOW IT GOT HERE:

* 2003 - New Zealand stops exporting live sheep for slaughter amid animal welfare concerns

* 2007 - The Labour government officially bans the export of live animals for slaughter - leaving some Saudi investors upset over investments in businesses slaughtering New Zealand lamb

* 2009 - The National government starts talks to resume exports but then extends the ban

* 2013 - Cabinet approves Foreign Minister Murray McCully's proposal to spend $11.5m setting up a farm for Saudi businessman Hamood Al Ali Al Khalaf - who lost millions over the ban

* August, 2015 - The government releases its papers into the deal, revealing it included a $4 million cash payment to Al Khalaf - prompting accusations of bribery, impropriety and calls for a probe

* The government says the payment was needed to help mend the trade relationship between the countries and there was also a possible $30m legal threat from Al Khalaf over the ban

* August, 2015 - The Auditor-General launches an investigation into the deal

* July, 2016 - Al Khalaf's former partner George Assaf says they took legal advice over the ban, but never planned to actually sue

* October, 2016 - The Auditor-General's report is released, concluding there was no corruption, but that there were "significant shortcomings" in the proposal put to cabinet, including a lack of clarity about what the deal's benefits were meant to be.

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