Ian Lundin notified on suspicion of violating international law in Sudan

1:58 min

Prosecutors have formally notified the CEO and the chairman of the board at the Swedish oil company Lundin Petroleum on suspicion of serious breach of international law in Sudan. In an open letter to the shareholders, the company maintains there are "no grounds for any allegations of wrongdoing".

Lundin Petroleum, formerly known as Lundin Oil, is suspected of having committed international crimes when 1997-2003 it led a consortium operating in an area at the centre of the civil war in Sudan. According to a 2010 report into the legacy of the consortium's work, some 12,000 people were killed and 160,000 people internally displaced from that area, also known as Block 5A.

That report caused the Swedish International Prosecutor in Stockholm to start a preliminary investigation into Lundin Petroleum's role in the human rights abuses that took place in the area. The company is accused of paying money to armed forces, which in the ongoing civil war cleared the area where the oil prospecting was to take place.

Last week, prosecutors formally notified the chairman of the board at Lundin Petroleum, Ian Lundin, and the CEO Alex Schneiter of the suspicions, the tabloid Aftonbladet reports. Robert Eriksson, press spokesperson at Lundin Petroleum, confirms this to the paper, but says this is a normal step in the ongoing investigation, and that it does not mean they are indicted.

"We are completely convinced that there is no foundation for all accusations of wrongdoings by representatives of Lundin," Eriksson told Aftonbladet.

According to Eriksson, they have long wanted to be heard in the legal process against them.

"We see this as something very positive, that Ian Lundin has been given the opportunity to meet with the prosecutor. This preliminary investigation is now entering its seventh year, so it has been going on for a long time. We have for years asked the prosecutor to allow Ian Lundin to meet with him and give his version of the work we did in Sudan until 2003," said Eriksson.

On Monday afternoon, Ian Lundin published an open letter to the shareholders, reiterating that "the Board remain convinced that there are no grounds for any allegations of wrongdoing against any representative of Lundin".

Lundin also writes that the company "always (has) been an advocate for peace by peaceful means in Sudan" and that its presence in Block 5A has "contributed to improving living conditions in the region", through infrastructure investment, community development and humanitarian assistance, improving the lives "for thousands of people".

In 2012, the insurance company Folksam and the pensions company AMF were among those who sold their shares in Lundin Petroleum for not launching an independent investigation into the allegations of its role in Sudan's civil war.

Sweden's former Prime Minister and former Foreign Minister Carl Bildt was a member of the board in Lundin Oil in 2000-2003.