[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]Washington is investigating free drugs sold in the black market in Iraq
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The US Justice Department is investigating the activities of drug companies in Iraq accused of providing free drugs and pharmaceutical equipment to the Iraqi government, although it knows it will be re-sold on the black market to finance attacks, AstraZeneca, one of these companies said.
During the publication of its semiannual results last week, AstraZeneca said it had received a request from the US Department "for an investigation into corruption in Iraq."
The request explains that the investigation is linked, at least in part, to a lawsuit filed in October in a court in Washington on behalf of veteran US soldiers killed or wounded in Iraq between 2005 and 2009.
Prosecutors accuse AstraZeneca and its rivals Pfizer, Roche, Johnson & Johnson and American giant General Electric, which manufactures medical imaging equipment, of violating US anti-terrorism laws.
And hoping to enter the markets in Iraq, these groups may have provided samples of medicines and medical equipment to the Iraqi Ministry of Health, which was then controlled by supporters of the leader of the Sadrist movement Moqtada al-Sadr.
Sadr, who won the May 12 legislative elections, was leading resistance at the time against the US occupation. He is also accused of creating "death squads" to attack Sunni areas.
Prosecutors say Sadr's supporters were selling on the black market products from pharmaceutical companies to finance the attacks.
AstraZeneca said in a statement it had "a firm and vital program to implement the law" and that it "does not accept bribes or other forms of corruption."
The Justice Department has not responded to AFP requests for comment.