SHARE
COPY LINK

IRAQ

Volvo execs charged for Saddam-era bribes

Three executives from Volvo’s construction equipment subsidiary have been charged for paying bribes to the regime of Saddam Hussein to skirt restrictions related to the United Nations’ Oil-for-Food Programme.

Volvo execs charged for Saddam-era bribes

The three have been under investigation by Sweden’s National Anti-Corruption Unit (Riksenheten mot corruption) for the past three years and could face jail time if convicted, according to the Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) newspaper.

The UN Oil-for-Food Programme was designed to ease the suffering of the Iraqi people during a UN embargo against trade with Iraq.

Launched in 1995, the programme allowed the limited sale of oil in exchange for food, medicine, and other essential goods.

But shortly after it began, the regime in Iraq began demanding supplemental charges on various contracts.

Around 2,200 companies around the world have been exposed for paying bribes in order to do business in Iraq, including 15 Swedish companies, with Volvo, Scania, and Atlas Copco featuring most prominently.

While the executives from Volvo are the first to be formally charged, prosecutors expect a decision regarding managers at Scania to be made soon as well.

“Volvo will be a pilot case for Sweden. It will be decisive for continuing with proceedings,” said chief prosecutor Christer van der Kwast to SvD.

All other investigations into Swedish companies’ alleged wrongdoing during the Oil-for-Food Programme have been abandoned.

The indicted Volvo executives are with Volvo Construction Equipment International AB.

In the early 2000s, the company is suspected of having paid bribes worth 20 million kronor ($2.2 million) to win contracts for 145 wheel loaders and 43 road graders.

Van der Kwast plans to argue for prison sentences because he views a crime which violates certain international sanctions as serious.

In March 2008, Volvo was forced to pay US authorities $19.6 million in fines, as well as return past profits with interest from contracts related to the bribery scandal.

SECURITY

Lund professor freed student from Islamic State war zone

A chemistry professor at Lund University dispatched a team of mercenaries into an Islamic State (also known as IS, Isis or Daesh) war zone to free one of her doctoral students and his family.

Lund professor freed student from Islamic State war zone
Kurdish pershmerga fighters during the battle to retake the Yazidi homeland Mount Sinjar in 2015. File photo: Bram Jansse/AP/TT
Charlotta Turner, professor in Analytical Chemistry, received a text message from her student Firas Jumaah in 2014 telling her to to assume he would not finish his thesis if he had not returned within a week. 
 
He and his family were, he told her, hiding out in a disused bleach factory, with the sounds of gunshots from Isis warriors roaming the town reverberating around them. Jumaah, who is from Iraq, is a member of the ethno-religious group Yazidi hated by Isis. 
 
“I had no hope then at all,” Jumaah told Lund's University Magazine LUM. “I was desperate. I just wanted to tell my supervisor what was happening. I had no idea that a professor would be able to do anything for us.” 
 
Jumaah had voluntarily entered the war zone after his wife had rung him to say that Isis fighters had taken over the next-door village, killing all the men and taking the women into slavery.
 
“My wife was totally panicking. Everyone was shocked at how IS were behaving,” he said. “I took the first plane there to be with them. What sort of life would I have if anything had happened to them there?”
 
But Turner was not willing to leave her student to die without trying to do something. 
 
“What was happening was completely unacceptable,” she told LUM. “I got so angry that IS was pushing itself into our world, exposing my doctoral student and his family to this, and disrupting the research.” 
 
She contacted the university's then security chief Per Gustafson.  
 
“It was almost as if he'd been waiting for this kind of mission,” Turner said. “Per Gustafson said that we had a transport and security deal which stretched over the whole world.” 
 
Over a few days of intense activity, Gustafson hired a security company which then arranged the rescue operation. 
 
A few days later two Landcruisers carrying four heavily-armed mercenaries roared into the area where Jumaah was hiding, and sped him away to Erbil Airport together with his wife and two small children. 
 
“I have never felt so privileged, so VIP,” Jumaah told LUM. “But at the same time I felt like a coward as I left my mother and sisters behind me.” 
 
Firas Jumaah and his former PHD supervisor Charlotta Turner. Photo: Kennet Ruona
 
Luckily the rest of his family survived Isis occupation, while Jumaah back in Sweden completed his PhD and now works for a pharmaceuticals company in Malmö. The family has almost finished paying the university back for the rescue operation.
 
“It was a unique event. As far as I know no other university has ever been involved in anything like it,” Gustafson said. 
SHOW COMMENTS