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 EU Civil Protection and Humanitarian AidSwedish 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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All components of this story

Article
27 April 2020

Lundin requests Swedish prosecutor to close investigation against them for alleged complicity in war crimes in So. Sudan

Author: PAX, Unpaid Debt (The Netherlands)

"Lundin lawyers: African witnesses cannot be trusted & War crimes investigation must be closed down because it violates human rights", 23 April 2020

...Swedish prosecutor Henrik Attorps said that the Lundin investigation is coming to a close. “We hope to be able to send final notice shortly.”

...Mr Attorps’ statement followed Lundin’s defence lawyers’ formal request to close down the investigation because it violates Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights, by which everyone has the right to a hearing within a reasonable time, beginning on the day on which a person is charged. In the Lundin case that would be 2016, when Ian Lundin and Alex Schneiter were first questioned as suspects. Decisive factors for a reasonable time are the complexity of the case, and the applicant’s and the judicial authorities conduct.

The legal merit of the request is not apparent. If applicants resort to actions that are likely to delay the proceedings, an appeal based on the European Convention will not hold...

...Lundin Energy has hired criminal defense lawyer Steven Kay... ccording to Mr Kay, witnesses from “countries like South Sudan” must be scrutinized more than European witnesses because “They are not used to our legal system” and Africans are more susceptible to lie for money. He argues that African victims of abuses who may benefit from a conviction are less reliable witnesses that Europeans because they are poorer.

 

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Article
15 November 2018

Lundin Petroleum’s executives could be held individually accountable in Sweden for corporate atrocity crimes in So. Sudan, say experts

Author: Miriam Ingeson, Uppsala University & Alexandra Lily Kather, European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights, on EJIL: Talk!

"The Road Less Traveled: How Corporate Directors Could be Held Individually Liable in Sweden for Corporate Atrocity Crimes Abroad", 13 Nov 2018

On 18 October 2018, the Swedish Government authorized the Swedish Prosecution Authority to proceed to prosecution in a case regarding activities of two corporate directors within Swedish oil company Lundin Oil, and later within Lundin Petroleum, in Sudan (now South Sudan) between 1998 and 2003. The company’s chief executive and chairman could be charged with aiding and abetting gross crimes against international law...The case has the potential of furthering accountability of corporate actors for their involvement in international crimes abroad...

The slowly growing body of case-law from domestic courts on atrocity crimes in relation to corporations provides an opportunity for the legal community to gain a better understanding of the concept of corporate criminal liability, individual and organizational. The potential ending of impunity as domestic courts tentatively take this road less traveled also raises the hope of future restitution and compensation for victims. To survivors of atrocity crimes, that could make all the difference.

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Item
15 November 2018

Open Letter from Ian H. Lundin and Alex Schneiter

Author: Ian H. Lundin (Chairman of the Board) & Alex Schneiter (President & CEO), Lundin Petroleum

The last nine years of this preliminary investigation have completely reinforced our already strong conviction that we are innocent, and our absolute certainty that neither we, nor any representative of Lundin, did anything wrong during our time in Sudan...

However,...it is increasingly clear to us, and our defence counsel, that the Prosecution Authority is determined to proceed to prosecution...

The preliminary investigation was initiated in 2010...[on the basis of reports produced by NGOs making]...false and baseless allegations against the Company [and] its subsidiary...in Sudan between the period 1997 to 2003...

[Despite the fact that] these reports contain many inaccuracies...with multiple layers of hearsay,... the Prosecution...is relying heavily on report from these NGOs...

All of this will be exposed during the legal process...[as this is] based on a biased and wrongful perception of criminal liability for conducting legitimate business activities and, as far as we are aware, this has never been previously tried in any national or international court...

Far from being indifferent to the conflict, which erupted in the region during the period, the Company did everything in its power to promote peace through peaceful means... 

[Moreover, at the time,] Sweden had a policy of constructive engagement with Sudan...and encouraged companies to invest [and]...refused to visit our area when we asked them to...

 

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Item
1 November 2018

Lundin Petroleum receives information regarding a potential corporate fine and forfeiture of economic benefits in relation to past operations in Sudan

Author: Lundin Petroleum

Lundin Petroleum AB…received notification from the Swedish Prosecution Authority on 1 November 2018 that the Company may be liable to a corporate fine…and forfeiture of economic benefits…in connection with the preliminary investigation into past operations in Sudan from 1997 to 2003...

The notification indicates that the Prosecutor may seek: a corporate fine of SEK 3 million; and forfeiture of economic benefits from the alleged offense in the amount of SEK 3,282 million…

[In the event that this case is brought to court] Lundin Petroleum...will firmly contest any corporate fine or forfeiture of economic benefits...[because] there are absolutely no grounds for any allegations of wrongdoing by any Company representatives...

In June 2010, the Swedish Prosecution Authority initiated a preliminary investigation...[and since then] Lundin Petroleum and its representatives have cooperated extensively and proactively with the investigation by providing information regarding the past operations in Sudan and by participating in interviews...

 

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Article
18 October 2018

Sweden OKs trial of Lundin Oil execs for Sudan war crimes

Author: AFP

Sweden on Thursday gave its green light for the indictment of the chief executive and chairman of Swedish group Lundin Oil, accused of being complicit in war crimes in the 2000s...

Sweden can prosecute crimes committed abroad in its court system, but the government's approval is needed to press charges against a foreign national for crimes committed abroad...

Lundin Oil is suspected of funding the Sudanese army and several militias to chase away local populations from regions where the company planned to carry out oil exploration...

...[T]he oil group said it believes "there are no grounds for any allegations of wrongdoing by any representative of the company."

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Article
16 May 2017

Prosecution of Lundin Petroleum board members in Sweden over alleged complicity in human rights abuses in Sudan may start early 2018

Author: Lisa Röstlund, Aftonbladet (Sweden)

"Lundin röstar om miljardersättning till Sudan", 4 May 2017

[unofficial translation]

"Lundin votes for billion compensation to Sudan"

...Chairman of the Board Ian Lundin and CEO Alex Schneiter have...been announced [to be under] suspicion of assistance in cases of gross human rights violations...["]The investigation is in progress and it is progressing["], says [the Swedish] prosecutor. He hopes to finish the investigation, and possibly prosecute, at the beginning of next year...UN rapporteurs and human rights organizations such as Amnesty and Human Rights Watch have found that the oil company Lundin Petroleum contributed to mass death and flight in Sudan, between 1997-2003....[Lundin Petroleum stated: "] We remain convinced that there are no legal or other grounds for any allegations of wrongdoing against any representative of Lundin and believe that our co-operation with the preliminary investigation by a Swedish Prosecutor will show that... [W]e have always conducted our business appropriately.["]...

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Report
27 April 2017

Report: 'Fuel for conflict - Investors and the case of Lundin Petroleum in Sudan'

Author: Swedwatch, Fair Finance Guide

This report focuses on the risks and responsibilities associated with investments in companies that are active in countries with ongoing violent conflicts and humanitarian crises... Using the terminology of the UNGPs, a company that has a business relationship with another company that causes or contributes to adverse impacts on human rights is considered linked to this impact... [S]hareholders are in a unique position to exert pressure on and influence a company’s behaviour... The survey conducted for this report examines how the banks and government pension funds have acted on the allegations against Lundin. Their responses have been scored based on how responsibly they have acted on the information regarding human rights impacts in Sudan. The assessment [...] is based on the investor’s own responses and the scoring criteria focuses on the engagement process, voting behaviour and demands put forward to the company... [I]nvestors must [...] assess all adverse human rights impacts connected to their investment. This could be done as a part of a thorough human rights due diligence process...

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Article
15 November 2016

Lundin Petroleum officials to be questioned on possible complicity in Sudan war crimes

Author: Reuters

"Lundin Petroleum CEO, chairman to be questioned on possible Sudan crimes"

Swedish prosecutors will question the CEO and chairman of Swedish oil firm Lundin Petroleum about possible crimes against international humanitarian law in Sudan...

In 2010, prosecutors opened a preliminary investigation into Lundin Petroleum's activities in the country after a report by the European Coalition on Oil in Sudan (ECOS) said the company was possibly complicit in human rights abuses between 1997 and 2003. "Personally, I am convinced the investigation will not lead to prosecution," Lundin Petroleum chairman Ian Lundin [said]..."There are no grounds for the allegations,"...A spokesman for Lundin Petroleum confirmed Ian Lundin and CEO Alex Schneiter would be interviewed but said neither of them wanted to make further comments...

...Under Swedish law, any such crimes can be prosecuted in the country's courts even if they were committed abroad. The ECOS report said oil exploration by what was previously Lundin Oil, and other firms, set off a battle for control of a disputed region in Sudan which led to thousands of deaths and the forced displacement of local populations.

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Article
15 November 2016

NGOs call Lundin Petroleum investigation an "an exemplary effort to seek accountability for corporate complicity in human rights abuses"

Author: James Ninrew, Victims’ Group Juba(South-Sudan) & Egbert Wesselink, PAX (Netherlands)

"Victims hopeful that Lundin Petroleum will pay its dues"

There is good news about South Sudan coming from Sweden. Lundin Petroleum’s Ian Lundin and Alex Schneiter are being questioned by the Swedish police for possible complicity in war crimes. For the first time in history, a competent court may soon be looking into war crimes that were committed in Sudan and South Sudan. Sweden is thereby showing true leadership. The investigation is an exemplary effort to seek accountability for corporate complicity in human rights abuses.

A court case however has limitations. Sweden cannot hold Sudanese or South Sudanese suspects to account, and it cannot easily deliver remedy to the victims. The indicted individuals represent only a segment of those who have benefitted from Sudan’s oil war, that earned Lundin Petroleum a fortune, while options for victims to obtain compensation through legal means are onerous and uncertain at best. Nonetheless, the victims of the oil war are starting to claim their right to effective remedy. Now is the time for the Swedish Government and Lundin Petroleum’s shareholders to take responsibility and realize this right.

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Article
31 May 2016

Lundin Petroleum releases sustainability report promoting rights of stakeholders & climate change mitigation

Author: Lundin Petroleum

"Sustainability Report 2015," 2 May 2016

Our vision is to grow a profitable upstream exploration…company, focused on core areas in a safe and environmentally responsible manner for the long-term benefit of our shareholders and society…The objective of this Sustainability Report is to give our stakeholders better insight into how we conduct our activities by disclosing our management approach and providing relevant qualitative and quantitative data. The topics covered are those which…were determined to be most relevant and material to our Company. They cover our Corporate Responsibility approach, governance structure, risk management and compliance processes. We also share information on our relations with our employees, contractors and stakeholders and the importance we attribute to ensuring everyone’s rights are respected. This report describes how Lundin Petroleum puts into practice its commitment to minimise environmental footprint through climate change and biodiversity initiatives…This is Lundin Petroleum’s first sustainability report which meets the requirements of the GRI G4 Guidelines’ core level, the GRI G4 Oil and Gas Sector Supplement and the UN Global Compact…

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