Lundin Energy lawsuit (re complicity in war crimes, Sudan)
On 11 November 2021, the Swedish public prosecutor, formally charged the chief executive of Lundin Energy (formerly Lundin Petroleum) and the chairman of the Board for aiding and abetting war crimes that occurred between 1999 and 2003 in Sudan, now South Sudan. Both deny the allegations.
The Swedish investigation began after a 2010 report by PAX for the European Coalition on Oil in Sudan (ECOS) , Unpaid Debt, alleged that members of the Lundin Consortium (these include OMV AG (Austria) and Petronas (Malaysia)) may have been complicit in the commission of international crimes in Sudan between 1999 and 2003. The Consortium was disbanded in 2003.
The report alleges that operations of the Lundin Consortium 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 allegedly violently displaced from areas where the Consortium planned to operate.
In November 2018, Alex Schneiter and Ian Lundin received final notice of the preliminary investigation and the company itself was notified that the Prosecution Authority would 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) at the conclusion of a trial. By doing so, the Prosecution Authority indirectly connects the company itself to the war crimes charges against Mr. Schneiter and Mr. Lundin as natural persons.
Mr. Schneiter and Mr. Lundin have published two open letters; noting “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 that Lundin is an agent for peace and prosperity in South Sudan.
In October 2018, the Swedish Prosecution Authority received approval in principle from the Swedish Ministry of Justice to proceed with a potential indictment against Chief Executive of Lundin Energy Alex Schneiter and the Chairman of the Board, Ian Lundin in relation to allegations of complicity in war crimes committed in Sudan (now South Sudan) between 1999-2003. Both deny the allegations and the Swedish Prosecution Authority has yet to issue indictments in the case.
The Swedish Prosecution Authority has also initiated a separate criminal investigation into threats and acts of harassment against witnesses in the Lundin complicity investigation was initiated by the Swedish Prosecution Authority in June 2018 . Alex Schneiter and Ian Lundin are also suspects in this separate investigation.
In February 2019, the Supreme Administrative Court of Sweden denied an appeal by Lundin Energy which demanded the Court overrule the October 2018 decision by the Swedish 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 warranted additional questioning.
In April 2020, Swedish prosecutor said the investigation was coming to a close. This statement follows Lundin lawyers request to close down the investigation because it violates Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights regarding the right to a fair and public hearing within a reasonable time. This request may have no legal merit if Lundin's actions are the reason of a delay in the proceedings. On 27 April 2021, the Svea Court of Appeal upheld the December 2020 District Court’s ruling allowing the prosecutor to continue the war crimes investigation against the company. The company has appealed before the Supreme Court (the Högsta Domstolen).
On 29 July 2021, the Supreme Court did not grant the company's leave to appeal and ruled that there are no legal grounds for courts to end a war crimes investigation.
On 11 November 2021, the Swedish public prosecutor, formally charged the chairman and former CEO of Lundin Energy for aiding and abetting war crimes. "This is the first time since Nuremberg that a listed company will have accounted in court for war crimes," said Egbert Wesselink, a spokesperson for PAX. Ian Lundin, Alex Schneiter and Lundin Energy "continue to strongly deny the criminal charges, and the Company reaffirms that there are no grounds for the allegations of wrongdoing by any of its representatives", said the company in a statement.
The crimes will be prosecuted on the basis of universal jurisdiction as provided for in Chapter 2, Section 3 (6) of the Swedish Penal Code. According to reports, the trial is likely to start in the beginning of 2022.
At the end of 2021, Lundin Energy’s former CEO Alex Schneiter filed a request to the court to dismiss the indictment against him. The District Court rejected the claim.
After both the District Court and Svea Court of Appeal denied his request, Schneiter appealed the decision to the Swedish Supreme Court. On 10 November 2022, the Supreme Court confirmed that the Swedish court has jurisdiction to hear the charges against the Swiss citizen, Alex Schneiter. The Court finds that, according to the Swedish legislation, the crime is indeed subject to so-called universal jurisdiction. The handling of the criminal case is now continuing at the Stockholm District Court.
On 11 January 2023, the Stockholm District Court announced that the trial against Ian Lundin, Chairman of Lundin Energy, and Alex Schneiter, Lundin's former CEO, will begin on 5 September 2023. The defence consequently filed complaints arguing that the indictment against the men was too vague to be actionable. Additionally, the Court rejected the prosecutor's request to hold additional pre-trial hearings with key witnesses and plaintiffs. It may take up to two years for the Court to render a judgment.
On 2 February 2023, the Stockholm District Court dismissed lawyers representing witnesses to the Lundin case who alleged to have been bribed, threatened, and subjected to physical violence.
The trial started on 5 September 2023 and the concluding pleas will be delivered in February and March 2026. The number of scheduled court days largely exceeds the length of any previous trial in Sweden. Lundin will present its case at the end of November 2023, while former CEO Alex Schneiter will present his defence in Feburary 2024.
- Podcast series: Lundin War Crimes Trial, PAX and Global Idé, Aug 2023
-Threatened Witnesses Left without Lawyers, Unpaid Debt, 20 Feb 2023
-Lundin Trial will start on September 5th, Unpaid Debt, 20 Jan 2023
-Swedish court has jurisdiction to hear a case of alleged war crimes in Sudan, The Supreme Court of Sweden, 10 Nov 2022
-The Lundin war crimes trial may begin in April, Unpaid Debt, 9 Nov 2022
-Lundin’s crimes – were they intentional?, Unpaid Debt, 19 Nov 2021
-Sweden charges Lundin Energy executives with complicity in Sudan war crimes, Reuters, 11 Nov 2021
-Lundin rebuffed by the Supreme Court, 29 Jul 2021
-Lundin’s appeal to terminate the investigation is rejected, Unpaid Debt, 2 May 2021
- 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
9 Bedford Row International
-A Report on the Lundin Case, Steven Kay QC , 10 May 2021
-Report Website (report commissioned by the Lundin's Board of Directors)
Lundin Energy (formerly Lundin Petroleum):
-Lundin case, PAX
- 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