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Board Members at Lundin, Big Shots at Bildt
Oil, gas, MENA, Bildt, and their connections. By Lisa Röstlund and Leo Lagercrantz.
Yesterday Aftonbladet traced Carl Bildt's career from crook to hero in his role in Ethiopia.
Today we can reveal that several of his colleagues at the MFA are or have been involved in raw materials corporations with business in countries accused of crimes against humanity.
At the same time, these same people have had an enormous influence on Swedish foreign policy.
The scandal with the Lundins and Carl Bildt is a soap opera that's been ongoing for more than ten years.
Aftonbladet can today reveal that more MFA executives than merely Carl Bildt have or have had interests in raw materials corporations in countries criticised for crimes against humanity.
This at the same time they exercise an enormous influence on Sweden's foreign policy.
Today Aftonbladet will also scrutinise how parts of Sweden's security policy is managed by an institute in Nacka, The Institute for Security and Development Policy is mainly financed by Bildt's foreign office.
Aftonbladet learned that the institute manages affairs with controversial states such as North Korea and Burma and functions as a hub in the so-called transatlantic link: security policy between Europe and the US.
Svante Cornell is the head of the ISDP.
The main sponsor is the foreign office which gives the ISDP SEK ten million in grants per year.
According to Aftonbladet's sources, the ISDP is Carl Bildt's baby and the finances are described as Bildt's petty cash.
When Aftonbladet meet Svante Cornell, he describes the institute as a 'think tank' whose purpose is to help the understanding of countries from the eastern borders of the EU to east Asia.
Svante Cornell also runs the consultancy CCC, Cornell Caspian Consulting, which he and his father, former top diplomat Erik Cornell, founded in 1997. According to tax records, the company are engaged in 'consultant operations specialising in political and economic issues and problems in Turkey, Southwest Asian Caucasus, and central Asia'.
Their website used to have pictures from the year 2000 when Cornell was part of a PR campaign and rode a motorcycle with a barrel of oil in a sidecar along the road between Azerbaijan and Turkey where the pipeline was planned. In the picture he's seen with Turkish gendarmes and Azerbaijan's president Heydar Aliyev, the dictator who took power in 1992 through a military coup and won 99% of the votes the year after. Heydar Aliyev described Cornell at the ISDP website as a 'hero' and a 'great politician'.
'You are crazy but you are heroes! You are great adventurers but also great politicians!'
- Heydar Aliyev to Svante Cornell on 22 August 2000
'It's a long story how I ended up here. It started with an idea that came up during a conference in Washington DC. The Clinton administration were very positive to the pipeline. They knew these countries were harshly regulated by Russia and an important part of that was control of the energy. The pipelines were first and foremost a political security issue - a matter of binding those territories closer the west', says Svante Cornell.
Cornell says one should call him an independent academic, as he is portrayed in an article where he argues for Azerbaijan being the target of a media campaign about human rights in connection with the Eurovision song contest in Baku.
'I never worked for an oil company. My own company pulls in $3000-$4000 per year. I've worked for other companies such as Telia Sonera, RVE, SCB, and a German gas company.'
Last year Carl Bildt set up a group of about 30 academics with connections to his foreign office. He called the group the 'Strategic Council', and Svante Cornell is a member. But Cornell denies having any special relationship with Bildt.
'Mostly we meet at conferences.'
The name Svante Cornell turns up five times in the WikiLeaks Cablegate files.
According to a report from the US embassy in Baku, Cornell worked with the plans for the trip by Mehriban Aliyeva, wife of the dictator, to Washington DC in 2006.
Cornell says that information is only partly correct.
'It's not true that I helped plan the visit. But I remember her visit and I remember meeting her.'
Jonas Hafström was a member of the board of Lundin's Vostok Nafta in 2001. At the same time, he was head of the consular section at the ministry of foreign affairs. When the media found out about this, foreign minister Anna Lindh was forced to ask for his resignation.
Today he's Sweden's ambassador to the US, appointed by Bildt himself.
And he tells us through his secretary that he's not interested in commenting this article.
Sven Hirdman is a retired ambassador, but until the end of last year had retiree assignments from the MFA. Today he's honorary chairman of the Lundin corporation Rusforest where he was ordinary chairman 2006-2011. The company own forest and sawing mills in Siberia.
Torbjörn Törnqvist, sometimes called Sweden's most secretive billionaire, is chief owner of the fourth largest crude oil trader in the world, registered on Cyprus: Gunvor Group. He made his fortune in a mere ten years.
In February 2007 the Swedish government appointed Torbjörn Törnqvist as honorary consul in Geneva. The cabinet announced at the end of 2011 that Torbjörn Törnqvist would continue in that capacity.
The decision was made by Carl Bildt.
Embassy cables leaked by WikiLeaks in 2010 reveal that the US wondered about the relationship and strong position of Torbjörn Törnqvist and Gunvor with the Russian government.
'As with GUNVOR, the company is rumoured to be one of Putin's sources of undisclosed wealth.'
When Aftonbladet attempted to contact Törnqvist, the consulate in Geneva referred us to the offices of Gunvor Group, where a secretary told us Törnqvist was in a meeting. The only way for journalists to reach him is via FAX.
'If he feels like answering your questions, he'll get back to you', the secretary told us.
But is FAX really the only way to reach Sweden's honorary consul?
'Unfortunately yes. That's a corporate policy.'
So we faxed our questions, but as of last night he still hadn't replied.
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