Bildt Centre of Ethics Controversy
Carl Bildt, recently named foreign minister in Sweden’s centre-right government, continues to find himself at the centre of an ethics controversy over his shareholdings in a Russian gas giant and Sudan oil projects.
A former prime minister, Bildt has shares worth some US$ 2.86 million dollars in some 30 companies, including some which observers say are unethical, in particular Vostok Nafta which is closely tied to Gazprom of Russia and Lundin Petroleum which is present in Sudan.
Editorialist Henrik Brors at Sweden’s daily, Dagens Nyheter, told the news agency AFP that ”Bildt has already lost lots of credibility (over his stake) in the suspicious company” Vostok Nafta.
Bildt is however no exception in the government of Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt.
Of the 20 ministers in the cabinet, all but three own shares, according to an official list published by the government.
But the criticism against Bildt has been building for two weeks, with Swedish media, political opponents and commentators pointing out the potential for a conflict of interest for a foreign minister of a European Union country.
The foreign minister finally announced last week that he had sold his shares in Vostok Nafta and would sell his stock options in December.
Vostok Nafta, registered in Bermuda, is directly or indirectly controlled by the Swedish industrial family Lundin.
It owns some one percent of Gazprom, which is majority owned by the Russian state.
Bildt told media on Thursday that all of his shares were now under discretionary management, thereby avoiding any conflict of interest.