October 21, 2016 (JUBA) – A Swedish oil company, Lundin Petroleum, which operated in Sudan and the then Southern Sudan’s oil rich Unity state in the past, has been investigated for being allegedly complicit in crimes against humanity.
- An aerial view of an oil field near the town of Bentiu, Unity state (AP)
Lundin Petroleum is an independent oil and gas exploration and production company with core operations in Norway and South East Asia and in Sudan.
The investigation is a follow up of a similar case opened against the oil company six years agao. In 2010, prosecutors opened a preliminary investigation into Lundin Petroleum’s activities in Sudan and South Sudan 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.
Lundin Petroleum company’s executives, Ian Lundin and Alex Schneiter, are reportedly being interrogated in Sweden for alleged complicity in war crimes in South Sudan. The investigation is an exemplary effort to seek accountability for corporate complicity in human rights abuses.
In a statement issued on Friday, one of the accusers, Reverend James Kuong Ninrew, said taking the Lundin Petroleum company to court for the alleged crimes was a right thing to do for the victims.
“Impunity and disregard for victims has been among the root causes of perpetuating violence in South Sudan. (…) I hope that Sweden’s righteous intention to take Lundin executives to court will also produce satisfaction for the many people who have paid such a high price for Lundin’s benefits,” Rev. James Kuong Ninrew said in Juba.
The indicted individuals, however, represent only a segment of those who have benefitted from Sudan and South Sudan’s oil war that brought Lundin Petroleum fortune.
“Victims of the oil war are starting to claim their right to effective remedy. This is the time for the Swedish Government and Lundin Petroleum’s shareholders to take responsibility and realize this right,” it said.
The Sudanese war profits, he added, made Lundin Petroleum’s money-spinning investments in Norway possible and Lundin Petroleum’s investors are standing accused of glossing over human rights abuses and indirectly benefitting from war and war crimes.
“Confronted with overwhelming evidence of callous behaviour by the company, its investors must finally start addressing the rights of victims,” the statement added.
“And particularly heavy responsibility lies with the Lundin family, that owns 30% of the company, and with the Swedish state, Lundin Petroleum’s host and, through its pension funds, another major shareholder.”
The statement added that among those who have an old debt to pay are Swedbank Robur, with 5.8%, the second largest shareholder now, Skagen, Nordea, Handelsbanken, and the Norwegian Government through Norges Bank.
“Astonishingly, this year Statoil SA bought 20% of the shares, despite being fully informed about the company’s past,” it added.
Inspite of their professed support for the UN Guiding Principles, it said, none of these shareholders have ever used their leverage to undo the company’s dismal legacy.
Swedish prosecutors will question the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Chairman of the oil firm about possible crimes against international humanitarian law in Sudan, a company spokesman said on Friday.
"Personally, I am convinced the investigation will not lead to prosecution," Lundin Petroleum chairman, Ian Lundin, told a Swedish daily newspaper, Dagens Industri, on Friday.
"There are no grounds for the allegations," he said, adding that he had repeatedly asked the prosecutor to have an opportunity to answer his questions.