Lundin Energy – Alex Schneiter and Ian Lundin
Ongoing proceedings in Sweden into complicity in international crimes committed in Sudan (now South Sudan) between 1997 and 2003
Type of jurisdiction
Universal jurisdiction and active personality
Alex Schneiter, Swiss national and CEO of Lundin Energy; Ian Lundin, Swedish national and Chairman of Lundin Energy; and the company Lundin Energy
Countries of residence of suspects
Sweden and Switzerland
Complicity in war crimes
Investigation closed; two individuals indicted; awaiting trial
The second Sudanese civil war was fought by the Government of Sudan, the Sudanese People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) and other armed groups from 1983 to 2005. According to a report published by the European Coalition on Oil in Sudan, Lundin Petroleum (then Lundin Oil and Lundin Energy) signed a contract in 1997 with the Government of Sudan for the exploration and production of oil in a war zone in southern Sudan, the Block 5A concession, which was not at that time under full government control.
A conflict broke out between the government and SPLA-supported armed groups for the control of the Block 5A concession.
The company allegedly paid the Sudanese army and non-state armed groups to forcibly displace the local population from oil-rich areas, in order to secure their operations. Between 1997 and 2003, almost 200’000 civilians were forcedly displaced and thousands died. Other crimes were allegedly carried out in this context, including unlawful killings, rape, enslavement, torture, indiscriminate attacks, pillage and the recruitment of child soldiers.
In 2010, the European Coalition on Oil in Sudan published a report indicating that Lundin Petroleum may have been complicit in international crimes committed in Sudan between 1997 and 2003. The report was submitted to the Swedish International Public Prosecution Office, which opened a preliminary investigation the same year. Schneiter, who was head of exploration during the relevant time period, and Lundin, Chairman of Lundin Energy, became formal
suspects after being questioned by prosecutors in 2016. Since 2010, prosecutors have conducted over 270 interviews.
On 18 October 2018, the Swedish Government authorized the prosecutor to proceed with an indictment in this case. Pursuant to Swedish law, the prosecution of a foreign national for crimes committed abroad requires governmental authorization.
On 11 November 2021, Schneiter and Lundin were indicted for aiding and abetting war crimes committed in Sudan in 1999- 2003 in the context of the non- international armed conflict, with the purpose of securing the company’s oil operations in southern Sudan. According to the prosecution, the Sudanese regime systematically attacked civilians and committed indiscriminate attacks, in order to take control over relevant areas and create conditions for the oil exploration activities of Lundin Oil.
Later that month, Schneiter requested the District Court to reject the indictment against him claiming that Swedish courts have no jurisdiction over him. The District Court rejected his request and Schneiter appealed to the Svea Court of Appeal, which agreed with the lower court’s decision.
A claim has been filed to confiscate around of SEK 1’400’000’000 (EUR 140’000’000) from Lundin Energy, which, according to the prosecutor, corresponds to the profit the company made on the sale of the business in 2003.
Developments in 2022
On 28 February 2022, Schneiter appealed his indictment before the Swedish Supreme Court on the grounds that there was no legal basis in international law for the exercise of universal jurisdiction against a non- Swedish national who is not present on Swedish territory.
On 10 November 2022, the Supreme Court ruled that, in the exercise of universal jurisdiction, some form of connection to Sweden is required for a crime to be prosecuted. However, it concluded that the connection to Sweden of the crimes allegedly committed by Schneiter was sufficient for the trial to be held by Swedish courts and that there was no obstacle to it in international law. The Supreme Court hence confirmed Schneiter’s indictment.
The Stockholm District Court has thus resumed preparation for the trial, which is scheduled for September 2023, and may last for over 150 days.