Swedish prosecutors have charged high-ranking executives at the Lundin Group over complicity in war crimes committed in Sudan.
The Swedish Prosecution Authority charged chairman of the board, Ian H Lundin, and director Alex Schneiter, the former CEO. Sweden has accused them of involvement in crimes carried out in Sudan from 1999 to 2003 and 2000 to 2003 respectively.
Sweden has sought to fine Lundin for the amount it made on the sale of its Sudan business in 2003. This amounts to $159.9 million.
The prosecutor’s office noted the accusations focus on operations in Block 5A. Lundin found oil on the block in 1999. Shortly after the Sudanese military and a militia group “led offensive military operations” in the area to allow Lundin’s exploration.
Sweden said the Sudanese government’s actions, via the military and the militia group, had acted against humanitarian law.
”In our view, the investigation shows that the military and its allied militia systematically attacked civilians or carried out indiscriminate attacks.
“For example, aerial bombardments from transport planes, shooting civilians from helicopter gunships, abducting and plundering civilians and burning entire villages and their crops so that people did not have anything to live by. Consequently, many civilians were killed, injured and displaced from Block 5A”, says Head of the Investigation Public Prosecutor Henrik Attorps.
The Lundin execs were “complicit in war crimes”, the prosecutor’s statement said.
Lundin had changed its view on security after 1999, Sweden said, calling for the Sudanese military to take control of Block 5A.
“What constitutes complicity in a criminal sense is that they made these demands despite understanding or, in any case being indifferent to the military and the militia carrying out the war in a way that was forbidden according to international humanitarian law”, says Chief Public Prosecutor Krister Petersson.
Both Lundin and Schneiter have denied the charges and the board of Lundin has backed them. However, Ian Lundin has opted not to stand for re-election as chairman at the 2022 AGM. Lundin will hold its AGM at the end of March.
Ian Lundin described the move as “incomprehensible”. He denied that there was evidence to support the investigation. This has “not changed for the last eleven years.”
“I know that we have done no wrong and that we will ultimately prove this in court. It has been an honour and a privilege to serve as Chairman of Lundin Energy for the past 20 years,” he said.
A Dutch NGO, Pax for Peace, said it was crucial that people not forget the crimes from Sudan’s past.
The director of the group, Anna Timmerman, said it had taken “tremendous perseverance to take such a large war crimes case to court, especially if suspects can afford an army of lawyers. It is a historic achievement. PAX is proud to have brought the Lundin presented to the prosecutor in 2010.”
The Lundin statement said it was “extremely concerned” about the investigation and the links between NGOs and the prosecution.
“In the company’s firm opinion, there is no evidence linking any representative to the alleged primary crimes and this will be fully demonstrated at trial,” it said. Lundin was a “positive force for development in Sudan and operated there responsibly”.
Lundin went on to say that it would challenge the corporate fine and forfeiture. The company believes there is no legal basis for such a claim, it said.
The European Coalition on Oil in Sudan (ECOS) published a report on Lundin’s activities in Sudan in 2010. Sweden launched an investigation into Lundin the same year.
Lundin has attempted to have the investigation ended but the Supreme Court ruled in July that it should continue.