Wed Feb 14th, 2007 at 11:15:30 AM EST
or Why being in the private and public sector at the same time could potentially cause a conflict of interest
The new Swedish centre-right government haven't had an easy couple of months on the job. Almost within minutes of taking office, two scandals broke, resulting in two of the new ministers getting the boot literally days after being appointed.
(update: EuroTrib coverage on those scandals by Laurent GUERBY and A swedish kind of death)
Foreign minister Carl Bildt may be the next to go, whether he likes to or not.
From the diaries -- whataboutbob
First there was the story of his involvement in Vostok Nafta, a holding company who primarily own stock in Russian gas giant Gazprom, who wants to build a pipeline in the Baltic Sea. Bildt, in his position as Swedish foreign minister, would certainly be able to exert some influence on the Swedish government's position towards that pipeline.
But it seems nary a day goes by without a new scandal in Rosenbad. Which brings us to the story hinted at in the title, and which truly is beyond the pale. From one of Sweden's premiere tabloid news rags, Expressen, columnist Lars Lindström (in Swedish, naturally):
|Säg som det är om Sudan, Carl Bildt!|
Gång på gång upprepar utrikesminister Carl Bildt samma sak.
Lundin Petroleum, där han fortfarande äger aktier, har "ingen egen verksamhet i Sudan".
Det är inte sant, och här är dokumenten som avslöjar honom.
Lundin Petroleum, i vars styrelse Carl Bildt satt till den 6 oktober, redovisade detaljerat sin verksamhet på en Capital Market Day 30 januari i år. I presentationen ingick som en mycket viktig del de aktiviteter i Sudan som Carl Bildt påstår inte existerar.
|Tell it like it is about Sudan, Carl Bildt!|
Time and again foreign minister Carl Bildt repeats the same thing.
Lundin Petroleum, in which he still owns stock, has "no activity of its own in Sudan."
That's not true, and here are the documents that proves him wrong.
Lundin Petroleum, where Carl Bildt was a member of the board until October 6th , presented in great detail its activities on a Capital Market Day on January 30th this year. The activities in Sudan, which Carl Bildt claims don't exist, were an essential part of the presentation.
|Eftersom Carl Bildt satt i styrelsen torde han äga kunskap om styrelseordföranden Ian Lundins goda kontakter med Sudans regering, och att man var överens om att Lundin Petroleum ska fortsätta att exploatera sin oljekoncession i Sudan.||Since Carl Bildt was a member of the board he ought to have had knowledge of chairman Ian Lundin's good contacts with the government of Sudan, and that they were in agreement that Lundin Petroleum would continue to exploit its oil concession in Sudan.|
(rough translation mine)
|Lundin Petroleum fick 1,2 miljarder kronor när företaget 2003 sålde sin första oljekoncession i Sudan, kallad Block 5A. Även det projektet drevs av ett konsortium, där Bildts grabbar stod för 40,4 procent.||Lundin Petroleum received 1.2 billion SEK when the company in 2003 sold its first oil concession in Sudan, called Block 5A. This projekt was also run by a consortium, where Bildt's boys runs 40.4 procent.|
The column goes on to state that Bildt potentially stands to make a lot of money out of Lundin Petroleum's dealings with the Sudanese government. To paraphrase a recent episode of The Daily Show, that is the definition of a conflict of interest!
According to the column, Bildt has not once mentioned Sudan during his tenure as foreign minister. A quick perusal of Bildt's English-language blog reveals only a brief mention in passing of Sudan.
What's astonishing is his refusal to even acknowledge it could be perceived as a problem that he served as member of the board on not one, but two companies who may be affected by his decisions and influence as foreign minister. The scandals that brought down the two other ministers pale in comparison to what Bildt is doing here. Just resigning from the boards doesn't cut it. At a bare minimum he ought to have gotten rid of his stock before taking office, and even then the suspicions would linger that he'd be doing favours for his former colleagues.
If I were prime minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, I'd boot Bildt's ass now and try to salvage what little credibility the right-wing bloc has left.