[JURIST] More than 2,000 companies around the world paid $1.8 billion in illegal kickbacks to the regime of Saddam Hussein in abusing the now defunct UN oil-for-food program [official website; JURIST news archive], according to parts of a UN investigation obtained Thursday by the Associated Press. The Independent Inquiry Committee (IIC) [official website], led by former US Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker [official profile], is set to release its full report later Thursday. The report found that more than half of all companies participating in the program from 66 countries used illegal kickbacks and surcharges to win oil contracts from Iraq. The report is expected to be critical of UN Secretary General Kofi Annan [official profile; JURIST news archive] and the UN Security Council for failing to better monitor the program. Under the massive aid program, which ran from 1996 to 2003, Iraq was allowed to sell oil and use the proceeds to buy humanitarian goods to help citizens cope with the UN sanctions placed on the country. The report also found that Iraqi leaders, who were able to award the oil contracts, denied contracts to American, British and Japanese companies due to their government's support for the sanctions, while they favored Russia, France and China. The report, the fifth to be issued, will conclude the commission's year-long investigation. AP has more.
11:46 AM ET – The Independent Inquiry Committee has now posted online the full text of its report on The Manipulation of the United Nations Oil-for-Food Programme [PDF]. A separate table detailing Actual and Projected Illicit Payments on Contracts for Humanitarian Goods-Summary by Supplier [PDF] is also available. The 190-page list notes payments by multinationals DaimlerChrysler and Volvo as well as many other large and small businesses worldwide.