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February 23, 2015

According to Development Today, the Economic Crime Unit of the Swedish police has launched an investigation into the 2009 sale by the Swedish biofuel firm SEKAB of its African assets to the company’s former CEO, who set up his own company, Agro EcoEnergy, in Tanzania.

Agro EcoEnergy is of particular interest as it is highlighted in Tanzania’s G8 New Alliance Progress Report for 2014The G8 New Alliance is a pet project of the Obama administration, having been launched at the 2012 G8 summit in Camp David.

The US and UK governments have championed the New Alliance, which is made up of 10 African countries that have promised to make policy changes favoring large agribusiness in exchange for donor aid and pledges of private investment.

USAID has been keen to stress that many of the companies investing are “African,” but many of these companies, like Agro EcoEnergy, are actually held by foreign investors.

This case is said to be under review because SEKAB sold the project for the sum of 400 Swedish Crowns (approximately $50) to Carstedt, even though three Swedish municipalities were reported to have invested hundreds of millions of crowns into SEKAB to support the project.

Last year, Agro EcoEnergy received a $14 million loan guarantee from SIDA – the Swedish government’s aid agency – and the company is said to be seeking an additional $300 million from a consortium of investors led by the African Development Bank.

The company has not yet been able to start production due to land conflicts and an import flooded sugar market in Tanzania.

We’ll have more for you on this very soon.

*** UPDATE ***

On July 3, 2015, ActionAid USA learned that the Swedish Special Prosecutor decided not to continue the investigation into the sale of SEKAB’s Tanzania project to EcoEnergy. The Prosecutor’s statement said that “there is nothing that indicates or can be proven that any wrong doing or illegal actions have been made.”