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Lundin Petroleum lawsuit (re complicity in war crimes, Sudan)

 

Snapshot:

In October 2018, the Swedish Prosecution Authority indicted the chief executive of Lundin Petroleum and the chairman of the Board, Alex Schneiter and Ian Lundin. They were charged with aiding and abetting international atrocity crimes occurring between 1997 and 2003 in Sudan, now South Sudan. Both deny the allegations.

 

In October 2018, after receiving the green light from the Swedish Government - a necessary requirement when exercising extra territorial jurisdiction – the Swedish Prosecution Authority indicted the chief executive of Lundin Petroleum and the chairman of the Board, Alex Schneiter and Ian Lundin. They were charged with aiding and abetting international atrocity crimes occurring between 1997 and 2003 in Sudan, now South Sudan. Both deny the allegations.

The Swedish investigation began after a 2010 report published by the European Coalition on Oil in Sudan (ECOS), Unpaid Debt, alleged that members of the Lundin Consortium (these include OMV AG  (Austria) and Petronas Caligari Sdn Bhd (Malaysia)) may have been complicit in the commission of international crimes in Sudan between 1997 and 2003. The Consortium was disbanded in 2003.

The operations of the Lundin Consortium allegedly sparked a civil war that led to the deaths of thousands of people, the forced displacement of almost 200,000 people, and numerous cases of rape, torture, and abduction. The members of the Lundin Consortium allegedly knew that such crimes were committed, enabled their commission, took no effective action to stop their occurrence, and worked alongside their perpetrators. It has been alleged, for instance, that Sudanese security staff employed by the Consortium reported to national security and army agencies that committed atrocity crimes. Communities were violently displaced from areas where the Consortium planned to operate.

In November 2018, Alex Schneiter and Ian Lundin received final notice of the indictment and the company itself was notified  that the Prosecution Authority intended to impose a corporate fine of SEK 3 million (USD 310,893) and forfeiture of economic benefits in the amount of SEK 3,282 million (USD 348,380,550). These fines would be imposed at the conclusion of the trial. By doing so, the Prosecution Authority indirectly connects the company itself to the war crimes charges against natural persons.

Mr. Schneiter and Mr. Lundin published two open letters. They noted “the suspicions [of criminal misconduct] are based on a biased and wrongful perception of criminal liability for conducting legitimate business activities…” They maintain their innocence and further argue they were an agent for peace and prosperity in South Sudan.

In February 2019, the Public Prosecutor’s Office in Gothenburg stated that another criminal investigation has been opened into threats and acts of violence against witnesses in the Lundin war crimes investigation. Alex Schneiter and Ian Lundin are also suspects in this separate investigation.

In March 2019, the Supreme Administrative Court of Sweden denied an appeal by Lundin Petroleum which demanded the Court overrule the October 2018 decision by the Government to allow the prosecution to proceed. Lundin argued that the two Government ministers involved in making the decision to proceed had not been in an independent, unbiased position.

In September 2019, the Prosecution Authority suspended the Final Notice period  and announced that it would interview Alex Schneiter and Ian Lundin once again. It explained that the police raids of Lundin offices in Switzerland and Sweden had presented new evidence that warrants additional questioning. A trial is now more likely to open in the Autumn of 2020.

In April 2020, Swedish prosecutor said the investigation is coming to a close. This statement follows Lundin lawyers request to close down the invertigation because it violates Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights regarding the right to be heard within a reasonable time. This request may have no legal merit if Lundin's actions are the reason of a delay in the proceedings. 

In a recent statement, Lundin's new lawyer, Stephen Kay, said that African witnesses are not to be trusted as unreliable because they are poor.

News items:

Lundin lawyers: African witnesses cannot be trusted & War crimes investigation must be closed down because it violates human rights, Unpaid Debt, 23 April 2020
- Additional Evidence Delays Lundin War Crimes Trial, Egbert Wesselink, Unpaid Debt, 14 Oct 2019
- Asser Institute for International Law seminar about the Lundin case, May 2019
- The Road Less Travelled: How Corporate Directors Could be Held Individually Liable in Sweden for Corporate Atrocity Crimes Abroad, Miriam Ingeson & Alexandra Lily Kather, on EJIL: Talk!, 13 Nov 2018
- Sweden Oks trial of Lundin Petroleum execs for Sudan war crimes, AFP, 18 Oct 2018
- Lundin Petroleum CEO, chairman to be questioned on possible Sudan crimes, Reuters, 15 Nov 2016
- Unpaid Debt website, maintained by PAX, with background information and latest news on the case
- Lundin History in Sudan website

 Lundin Petroleum:

- Open Letter from Ian H. Lundin and Alex Schneiter, 6 Nov 2019
- Open Letter from Ian H. Lundin and Alex Schneiter, 15 Nov 2018
- Lundin Petroleum receives information regarding a potential corporate fine and forfeiture of economic benefits in relation to past operations in Sudan, 1 Nov 2018

Background documents:

- Sudan, Oil and Human Rights, Human Rights Watch, 2003
- Sudan: The Human Price of Oil, Amnesty International, 3 May 2000
- Human Security in Sudan: The Report of a Canadian Assessment Mission, John Harker et al., prepared for the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Jan 2000
- Unpaid Debt, The Legacy of Lundin, Petronas and OMV in Block 5A, Sudan 1997-2003, European Coalition on Oil in Sudan, Jun 2010

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