By Richard Pollock
A little known Swedish-Canadian oil and mining conglomerate human rights groups have repeatedly charged produces “blood minerals” is among the Clinton Foundation’s biggest donors, thanks to a $100 million pledge in 2007, a Daily Caller News Foundation investigation has found.
“Blood minerals” are related to “blood diamonds,” which are allegedly mined in war zones or sold as commodities to help finance political insurgencies or despotic warlords.
When the Vancouver, Canada-based Lundin Group gave its $100 million commitment to the “Clinton Giustra Sustainable Growth Initiative,” the company had long been cutting deals with warlords, Marxist rebels, military strongmen and dictatorships in the war-torn African countries of Congo, Sudan and Ethiopia.
Lundin promoted its reputation as a fierce, hard-driving company. Adolf Lundin, who founded the company, audaciously traveled to the French home of Congo dictator Mobutu Sese Seko in 1996 to secure mining rights for his company. A few years later, Lundin admitted he had offered a “donation” to Mobutu’s “elections campaign,” but later said he never gave the funds.
His son, Lukas Lundin, also likes to promote the company’s reputation. He told an interviewer in 2005 his personal philosophy was “to chase elephants. Go big or go home.”
The Lundin Group reportedly cut a deal in 1997 with Congolese Marxist warlord Laurent Kabila, with a $50 million down payment toward $250 million they would give to the rebels in exchange for mining rights, according to according to U.N. Inspector Jason K. Stearns. Lundin eventually won majority rights to one of the country’s richest mineral veins.
A Swedish prosecutor, mirroring the views of human rights groups, once characterized the company as filled with “opportunistic, dictator-hugging businessmen,” a description the company has vigorously denied.
In accepting the $100 million, President Bill Clinton hailed Lundin’s contribution, saying “today’s generous support by the Lundin Group is to be applauded because it demonstrates the potential of this global initiative to capture the imagination and support of the mining sector.”
It wasn’t the first time Clinton consorted with mining moguls. In the waning hours of his presidency in 2001, Clinton pardoned Glencore International mining and oil magnate Marc Rich after his wife, Denise, made generous donations to the Democratic Party, Hillary Clinton’s Senate campaign and his Clinton Library.
Clinton’s pardon erased a 65-count indictment against Rich for trading with Iran against the oil embargo. Rich did the Iranian oil sales while Americans were held captive in the country by the Mullahs.
In the same year the Clinton Foundation accepted Lundin’s money, Swedwatch, a Swedish non-governmental organization that tracks Swedish business dealings in the developing world, released a condemnatory report about the company’s operations in Congo, titled “Risky Business.”
The report detailed widespread suffering in the Congo as whole villages were removed to make way for Lundin’s mining operations.
Six years earlier, the relief organization Christian Aid released a report denouncing the scorched-earth tactics of the Sudanese military to clear villages for Lundin’s petroleum exploration. Its report was titled, “Lundin Oil in Sudan: Scorched Earth.”
Thanks to those reporters and others, Lundin is known in Congress as well. Rep. Joe Pitts, a South Carolina Republican who sits on the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, told TheDCNF that “areas with high conflict over minerals are breeding grounds for human rights abuses on a massive scale, and when entities like the Clintons’ Foundation accept donations from these corrupt actors, they are sanctioning the exploitation.”
Swedish foreign minister Anna Lindh reflected her government’s regret over the Swedish company in April, 2001, saying, “Lundin Oil activities are negative for Sweden.” She added, “we expect Swedish companies to respect an ethical code in line with human rights and the environment in which they operate abroad.”
Although then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited the Congo in 2009, she unexpectedly delayed implementation of a landmark “certification” program designed to assure human rights were respected by mining companies like Lundin in Africa.
The certification process was passed under the Dodd-Frank Act. Her failure to act was criticized at the time by John Prendergast, president of “Enough.org,” a nongovernmental organization which championed the “blood minerals” legislation.
“At rare moments during the course of a war, a confluence of factors come together to provide a window of opportunity for real conflict transformation,” he wrote in 2010, a year after Clinton assumed office. “That missing conductor is the United States, and more specifically, its highest ranking official to travel to Congo and make it a priority: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
“At this pivotal moment, it is imperative that Secretary Clinton’s 14 month-old commitments to Congo are translated into concrete actions from the U.S. government.”
Robin Wright, another Enough.org advocate, wrote in Time Magazine that two years after Clinton traveled to the Congo, local villagers told her, “nearly everyone I met asked me to take a message back to ‘Mama Clinton’ to urge her to make good on her promise to implement the certification process.”
Such apparent quid pro quos were common at the Clinton Foundation, charges Charles Ortel, who has extensively studied the foundation.
“Since January 2001, the Clinton family has used their public charity as a vehicle to create enormously valuable concessions in numerous desperately poor and corrupt countries, for individuals who claim that they have made extravagantly large ‘pledges.’”
The final execution of the certification process was announced by the Department of State the same month Clinton left office in February, 2013.
Human rights groups have released numerous reports of the devastation wrought by oil and mining companies in Africa, with many focusing specifically on Lundin.
Swedwatch wrote extensively of the horrors caused by Lundin mining in Congo. “Three villages were relocated to make room for the new mining activities. In October 2007, many resettled families that had been promised new houses were still sheltering under plastic sheeting, waiting for their new houses to be built,” the report stated.
In the Sudan, Christian Aid said field workers in the Sudan “found thousands of Nuer civilians displaced from villages along this road, hundreds of miles away” due to Lundin oil operations, adding, “Then government troops arrived by truck and helicopter, burning the villages and killing anyone who was unable to flee – in most cases, the old and the very young.”
In April, 2001, Swedish Dagens Nyheter journalist Anna Koblanck toured Lundin’s Block 5A oil parcels in the Sudan with company executives.
Koblanck described seeing death and destruction along the way, writing, “the displaced Bentiu are starving to death.” She reported that “many villages along the road are empty.”
Human Rights Watch in 2003 noted Lundin never mentioned the scorched earth tactics in public statements about its presence in the Sudan: “The oil companies, led by Lundin, made no public statement condemning this destruction and displacement in Block 5A, despite the press attention it garnered and the regular alarms from U.N. agencies about the dire state of the needy in this very area.
“None of this fighting nor mass displacement caused the oil consortium, led by Lundin, to express concern about the well-being of the people living in its concession area,” said Human Rights Watch. “Lundin never mentioned the armed conflict in its public releases.”
Accusations of Lundin human rights violations in Ethiopia were so frequent in 2011 two Swedish journalists went there to investigate charges the company was party to widespread human rights violations. They were arrested by Ethiopian authorities government on “terrorism” charges and in 2012 sentenced to 18 years in prison.
The two “were investigating allegations of human rights violations linked to the activities of the Swedish oil company Lundin Oil,” stated PEN, the international journalist organization. The international outcry finally secured their release after more than a year of imprisonment.
For his part, Lukas Lundin has taken a page from the Clintons. He has established his own family Lundin Foundation that showcases an allegedly softer side of the company.
Lundin states the company is concerned about the welfare of local people, emphasizing “education and skills training to maximize local hire” including “sourcing from local producers” and “targeting wealth and employment creation in sectors independent of extractive activities.”
Neither the Clinton Foundation nor Lundin Group responded to requests for comment by TheDCNF.