Food companies paid millions of dollars in kickbacks to the toppled Saddam Hussein regime in Iraq, the Independent Inquiry Committee into the UN Iraq Oil for Food programme scandal has claimed.

Suppliers of wheat, rice, olive oil, chickpeas, beans, corn, ghee, milk, cheese and other products bribed the Iraq government to secure contracts to supply humanitarian supplies under the scheme. Hundreds of businesses from Algeria, Egypt, France, Spain and many other countries were involved, out of 2,200 companies named in a committee report.

One of the largest alleged kickbacks noted in the report included the Australian Wheat Board, which the report said handed over US$82m in kickbacks to secure contracts worth US$1.3bn. The board acknowledged payments might have been made, but claims it thought they were legitimate under the much-criticised scheme. Another large (and more typically sized) kickback cited supposedly involved Russia's Exportkhleb, paying US$3.8m to secure contracts worth US$50.9m to supply milk, barley, sugar and wheat, (it denies making the payments).

The Volcker committee said payments "were disguised by various subterfuges" not disclosed "by Iraq or the participating contractors".