The Public Prosecutor in Denmark has filed preliminary charges against a number of Danish companies, including pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk, in connection with a probe looking at trading with the Iraqi authorities under the United Nations oil-for-food programme.

In a statement, Novo Nordisk said it has not yet been presented with the formal documents detailing the charge, and thus is not aware of its contents. It said it would immediately approach the Public Prosecutor and cooperate fully ‘to ensure a smooth and efficient procedure’.

The Public Prosecutor said charges have been laid because otherwise the investigation would have to cease, in accordance with laws that renders such cases obsolete after five years unless formal action is taken. No addition evidence has come to light, it said.

Novo Nordisk said it could not predict the outcome of this matter how long the investigation will take or when it will be able to provide additional information.

The company was subpoenaed last month by the US Securities & Exchange Commission as part of the SEC’s own investigation into the matter.

The UN oil-for-food programme was introduced in 1996 to help the citizens of Iraqi after sanctions were imposed on Saddam Hussein's government. A UN probe last year accused more than 2,000 firms and individuals of taking part in kickbacks and corruption under the programme.