Lilly to cooperate with British investigation

January 2, 2008

Eli Lilly and Co. will hand over documents to a United Kingdom agency that is investigating whether it and two other drugmakers bribed the administration of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

The U.K.'s Serious Fraud Office has requested documents from locally based Lilly as well as from U.K.-based GlaxoSmithKline and AstraZeneca, according to a Bloomberg report.

Lilly spokesman Phil Belt said Lilly's U.K. unit would "promptly comply" with the request.

The investigation focuses on contracts that companies won with Iraq as part of the Oil-for-Food program, which the United Nations launched in 1996 to soften the impact of economic sanctions placed on Iraq after its 1990 invasion of Kuwait.

The investigation began in February, following a 2005 finding by a U.S. probe that more than 2,200 companies paid nearly $1.8 billion in bribes to win Iraqi contracts, Bloomberg reported.

The Serious Fraud Office said its investigation could expand to other companies.

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