Documents from an 18-month investigation into corruption in the UN oil-for-food programme will be legally transferred to the United Nations on January 1 to ensure safekeeping and will be made available to governments trying to prosecute alleged wrongdoers, the United Nations said.
The voluminous archive was complied by the Independent Inquiry Committee, led by former Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker, whose final report in October 2005 accused more than 2,200 companies from some 40 countries of colluding with Saddam Hussein's regime to bilk the humanitarian programme in Iraq of USD 1.8 billion.
UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Friday signed a document on UN handling of the committee's files. It creates a UN Office of the Independent Inquiry Committee on January 1 for an initial two-year period to preserve, manage, store and provide access to the documents.
The documents have physically been transferred from the committee to the UN in the past two weeks but Volcker still has control over them until the end of the year, Dujarric said.
The purpose of the UN rules, he said, is to ensure safekeeping and access to the documents, "so that investigations by national authorities can continue."
The oil-for-food programme was aimed at easing Iraqi suffering under UN sanctions imposed after Saddam's 1990 invasion of Kuwait. It allowed Iraq to sell oil provided the bulk of the proceeds were used to buy food, medicine and other humanitarian goods and pay war reparations.