By Letters Patent dated 10 November 2005, the Hon TRH Cole AO RFD QC was appointed Commissioner to conduct an inquiry into and report on whether decisions, actions, conduct or payments by Australian companies mentioned in the Final Report (“Manipulation of the Oil-for-Food Programme by the Iraqi Regime”) of the Independent Inquiry Committee into the United Nations Oil-for-Food Programme breached any Federal, State or Territory law.
The Inquiry was instigated following the expressed wish of the Secretary-General of the United Nations Mr Kofi Annan in a statement issued on 27 October 2005 with the release of the Committee’s report (the Volcker Report) that “national authorities will take steps to prevent the recurrence of such practices in the future and that they will take action, where appropriate, against companies falling within their jurisdiction.”
On 3 February 2006 Commissioner Cole indicated in a Statement made in Hearings that he would seek to have his Terms of Reference amended to broaden the scope of this Inquiry in certain areas. On 6 February 2006 further Letters Patent were issued setting down the requested changes to the Terms of Reference.
On 10 March 2006 the Commissioner was issued with further Letters Patent amending the date by which he must furnish his report to 30 June 2006.
On 17 March, in response to a request from the Commissioner that any doubt about the scope of his Inquiry be avoided, further Letters Patent were issued which amended the Terms of Reference.
On 22 June 2006 the Commissioner was issued with revised Terms of Reference changing the date by which he must furnish his report to 29 September 2006
On 21 September 2006 revised Terms of Reference were issued which extended the Commissioner's reporting date to 24 November 2006.
The Inquiry has the powers conferred by the Royal Commissions Act 1902.
On 24 November 2006 Commissioner Cole presented the Report of his Inquiry to the Governor-General.