COPENHAGEN: Sweden has prosecuted two managers of a Swedish oil exploration and production company for complicity in the military’s war crimes in Sudan from 1999 to 2003, including in their contacts with the country’s regime to secure the company’s oil operations in the African nation.
The two, who were not identified by the Swedish prosecutor’s office, had “a decisive influence” on Stockholm-based Lundin Oil AB’s operations in Sudan, the prosecutors said, adding that one was charged with complicity for the period May 1999-March 2003, and the other for the period October 2000-March 2003. Lundin Oil later became Lundin Petroleum and is now known as Lundin Energy.
From 1983 to 2005, Sudan was torn apart by a civil war between the Muslim-dominated north and the Christian south. A separate conflict in Darfur, the war-torn region of western Sudan, began in 2003. Thousands were killed and nearly 200,000 displaced.
A 2010 report by an activist group, the European Coalition on Oil in Sudan, claimed that Lundin Oil and three other oil companies helped exacerbate the war in southern Sudan by signing an oil exploration agreement with the Sudanese government for an area that the regime did not. full control.
This prompted the Swedish prosecutors to initiate a criminal investigation into the company. Six years later, its chairman, Ian H. Lundin, and then-CEO Alex Schneiter were informed that they were suspects in the investigation.
Lundin was the operator of a consortium of companies that explored Block 5A, including Malaysia’s Petronas Carigali Overseas, OMV (Sudan) Exploration GmbH in Austria and the Sudanese state oil company Sudapet Ltd.
Our “investigation shows that the military and its allied militia systematically attacked civilians or carried out indiscriminate attacks,” said Attorney General Henrik Attorps in a statement.
In a reaction, Lundin’s spokesman Robert Eriksson said that the Swedish prosecutor’s decision to issue an indictment was “incomprehensible” and called the investigation “unfounded and fundamentally wrong.”
“Both Ian and Alex firmly deny the allegations, and we know Lundin did nothing wrong. There is no evidence linking Lundin’s representatives to the alleged primary crimes in this case,” said Eriksson, head of Lundin’s media communications.
After the Sudanese military entered Block 5A in May 1999, Lundin Oil changed its view on who would be responsible for the security of the company’s operations, the prosecutor said, adding that the company demanded that the military be held accountable. for security, knowing that this meant that the military would then have to take control of Block 5A via military force.
“What constitutes complicity in the criminal law sense is that they made these demands despite understanding or at least indifferent to the military and the militia conducting the war in a way that was prohibited under international humanitarian law,” the chief prosecutor said. in Krister Petersson.
Eriksson said that Lundin worked in Block 5A “responsibly, as part of an international consortium, and fully in line with the policy of constructive engagement approved at the time by the United Nations, the European Union and Sweden.”
The authority said that there was also a claim for confiscation of an amount of SEK 1.4 billion ($ 161 million) from Lundin Energy AB, which according to the prosecutor corresponds to the profit of SEK 720 million ($ 83 million) that the company made at the sale of the business in 2003.
“It is important that these serious crimes are not forgotten. War crimes are one of the most serious crimes that Sweden has an international obligation to investigate and bring to justice, says Attorps.