The alleged payments, implicating some of Sweden’s best-known companies, involve the UN Oil-For-Food Programme in the 90’s. Heading the investigation, Sweden’s chief anti-corruption prosecutor Christer van der Kwast said he would look into ”everything that could be considered relevant and which has a Swedish link that makes it possible to prosecute in Sweden.”
He revealed that both companies and individuals could be charged with breaking international sanctions or bribery.
The investigation will focus on companies named in last October’s United Nations report on the scandal.
Among the Swedish companies named in that report were bus and truck maker Volvo AB and engineering company Atlas Copco AB.
The oil for food programme was founded in 1996 to allow Saddam Hussein’s regime to sell oil, with the condition that the money was used to buy food, medicines and other essential supplies.
Volvo, which sold its car division to Ford in 1999, said in October that its agent in Iraq had made payments to authorities there under the oil-for-food program but that it did not consider it bribery. Atlas Copco has denied wrongdoing.