STOCKHOLM - Swedish prosecutors on Thursday brought charges against the chairman and former CEO of Lundin Energy for complicity in war crimes carried out by the Sudanese army and allied militia in southern Sudan from 1999 to 2003.
Prosecutors said the company had asked the Sudanese government to secure a potential oil field, knowing this would mean seizing the area by force. This made the executives complicit in war crimes that were then carried out by the Sudanese army and allied militia against civilians.
"What constitutes complicity in a criminal sense is that they made these demands despite understanding or, in any case being indifferent to, the military and the militia carrying out the war in a way that was forbidden according to international humanitarian law,” the prosecutors' authority said in a statement.
Sweden-based Lundin Energy said in a statement that it rejected any grounds for allegations of wrongdoing. It identified the indicted executives as Chairman Ian Lundin and former CEO Alex Schneiter, now a board member. The company, known as Lundin Oil until 2001, sold its Sudan business in 2003.
Ian Lundin's lawyer Torgny Wetterberg said on Thursday his client was innocent: "The prosecutor will never be able to reach convictions. The prosecution is deficient on every point."
Schneiter's lawyer was not immediately available for comment.
Prosecutors also filed a claim to confiscate 1.39 billion crowns ($161.7 million) from Lundin Energy, corresponding to the profit the company made from the sale of the Sudan business in 2003. The company said it would contest this claim.
The company, whose shares were down 4% at 1100 GMT, also said Ian Lundin would not stand for re-election as chairman at its next annual general meeting.
The charges stem from an investigation that was launched as far back as 2010. The company had said in 2016 that prosecutors would question Lundin and Schneiter.
Sudan waged war for decades in South Sudan, which became an independent state in 2011, and in other restive parts of the country. Sudan's former president Omar al-Bashir, who ruled from 1989 until he was toppled in 2019 after street protests, is wanted by the International Criminal Court in the Hague for genocide and other war crimes, which he denies.
($1 = 8.5983 Swedish crowns)