- Company, president denies any wrongdoing
- Prosecutors say company wanted Sudanese military to secure oil field
- Dutch NGO calls indictment historic
STOCKHOLM, Nov. 11 (Reuters) – Swedish prosecutors on Thursday indicted the chairman and former CEO of Lundin Energy (LUNE.ST) on Thursday for complicity in war crimes committed by the Sudanese army and allied militias in southern Sudan in 1999 to 2003.
Prosecutors said the company had asked the Sudanese government to secure a potential oil field, knowing it would mean seizing the area by force. This made the leaders complicit in war crimes which were later perpetrated by the Sudanese army and allied militias against civilians.
“What constitutes complicity in the criminal sense is that they made these requests despite understanding or, at least, being indifferent to the military and militias waging war in a manner prohibited by international humanitarian law, ”prosecutors said. the authority said in a statement.
Sweden opened an investigation in 2010 following a report into Lundin’s presence in Sudan by the Dutch non-governmental organization PAX, which called for an investigation into the company’s role in human rights violations in this country.
“This is a great victory for justice and a historic achievement … It is the first time since Nuremberg that a listed company will be guilty of war crimes,” said Egbert Wesselink, spokesperson for PAX, in an email following the charge.
“Many companies see human rights as a source of risk that must be managed, rather than a standard that must be met,” he added.
Swedish company Lundin Energy said in a statement it rejects any grounds for allegations of wrongdoing. He identified the indicted executives as Chairman Ian Lundin and former CEO Alex Schneiter, now a member of the board. The company, known as Lundin Oil until 2001, sold its operations in Sudan in 2003.
Ian Lundin’s attorney, Torgny Wetterberg, said Thursday his client was innocent: “The prosecutor can never come up with convictions. The prosecution is flawed on all counts.”
Schneiter’s attorney was not immediately available for comment.
Prosecutors also filed a request for the confiscation of 1.39 billion crowns ($ 161.7 million) from Lundin Energy, corresponding to the profit the company made on the sale of the Sudan business in 2003. The company said that she would contest this request.
The company, whose shares closed nearly 5% lower on Thursday, also said that Ian Lundin will not stand for re-election as chairman at its next annual general meeting.
The charges stem from an investigation opened in 2010. The company said in 2016 that prosecutors would question Lundin and Schneiter.
Sudan has waged decades of war in South Sudan, which became an independent state in 2011, and other troubled parts of the country. Former Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who ruled from 1989 until his overthrow in 2019 after street protests, is wanted by the International Criminal Court in The Hague for genocide and other war crimes, which he said. denies.
($ 1 = 8.5983 Swedish kronor)
Reporting by Anna Ringstrom, additional reporting by Helena Soderpalm and Nerijus Adomaitis in Oslo Editing by Peter Graff and Barbara Lewis
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