The figures are ruthless: since the entry into force of the Ottawa Treaty, which in 1999 banned the production and use of landmines, more than 130,000 people have died from explosions of these weapons, nearly 90,000 have survived with very serious injuries and disabilities – more than half of them are children, and in any case almost all civilians, because this is a weapon which aims to weaken the resistance of a population and not to defend against an army[1].

In fact, the main part of these bombs kills in areas where there are no official wars, but horrific attempts at genocide like in Yemen, Myanmar (Cambodia) or Syria[2]. Otherwise, these are mines that were laid in previous wars and which still claim victims today because they have never been cleared, for example in Libya, Afghanistan and the former Yugoslavia[3]. The numbers are terrible and are getting worse with each passing year[4], in part because three big countries rejected the treaty: The United States, Russia and China[5].

Even those who decide to clear minefields usually have problems with political will, money and technology – for example in Greece, Sri Lanka and Ukraine, where there has been a years-long obligation to destroy more than two million landmines, but mine clearance is progressing extremely slowly or has even been suspended[6]. It’s too expensive.

So, if someone had the right idea for an anti-mine vehicle that would be extremely efficient and inexpensive, their business should be very successful. So thought Swedish engineer Ulf Grauers – a young man, born and raised in Södertälje, an industrial center near Stockholm, where AstraZeneca’s drugs and Scania’s industrial vehicles come from and where Björn Borg[7] is born and raised. Ulf has developed a bulldozer with a double titanium bucket that lifts mines in one motion and detonates them safely[8]. Ulf currently works for the Swedish subsidiary of the German group Metz of Dötlingen[9] – he designs escalator prototypes for the mechanical industry. In the months as the development of the anti-mine bulldozer begins, a project will be completed at Metz for a new model of fire engine with the same hydraulic, mechanical, electrical and mechanical properties as demining machines.

Two small workshops near Stockholm

Oracle’s anti-mine vehicle, ancestor of the Countermine Technologies vehicle

Grauers opened a workshop where he designs and builds models of his projects as he meets Lars Christiansson[10] – the owner of a small engineering firm who is working on the development of the new fire truck, but has also been trying for years to focus to do business in industrial demining vehicles[11]. Until he met Grauers (1995), Lars was unable to design a safe, economical and efficient car: “Technology is only one side of the problem, the key question is the ability to operate and achieve resilient equipment that is combined with agility in demining[12].

Ulf’s workshop is located in Nykvarn (a suburb of Södertälje) and is called Ulf Grauers Svenska Försäljnings AB[13], Lars’s one is in Södertälje and is called Countermine Group – divided into: a holding (Countermine Technologies), a workshop of designer (Countermine Engineering), a real estate company (Countermine Fastigheter), a company supposed to be involved in mine clearance (Countermine Operations) and a company which produces spare parts (Countermine Reservdelar)[14].

For fiscal and contractual reasons, each project (and therefore: each production of a vehicle intended for a specific area to be promoted) was entrusted to a new ad hoc company controlled by Countermine Operations[15]. For example, a local company, Terrafirma DOO Zagreb[16], was set up for the contract for demining parts of Croatia, which owned the two vehicles used for this contract and hired, on a daily basis, Countermine Technologies drivers[17].

Lars already has a contract with Oracle under his belt, for which Christiansson converted a Caterpillar tractor into a mining tractor, which was initially used to clear abandoned mines[18] and then has been offered to the military industry[19]. In order to improve its strength and flexibility, Countermine Technologies buys a factory that already works with titanium buckets and therefore has the technology that the two engineers from Södertälje lack: Scanjack AB from Uppsala[20], which, despite all the orders for the rehabilitation of Swedish farmland, which was contaminated with landmines during World War II, is in a serious liquidity crisis[21].

Scanjack manufactures and markets the Scanjack 3500[22], 11 of which were produced in 2008. Ten of them have already been sold, one is ready for delivery. Countermine Technologies is heavily indebted to the banks, but decides to buy it, because the international application program “From mined land to farmland” was launched – and it has been highly regarded at a trade fair in Belgium[23]. The Croatian state military agency CROMAC[24] certifies that the Scanjack vehicles modified by Countermine Technologies are the best on the market[25] and that they are also certified by the Swedish army through SWEDEC (Swedish EOD and Demining Center)[26].

Countermine Technologies has a capital of only 7000 crowns[27]: this amount is insufficient to finance the acquisition of Scanjack and to continue the development and the production. It was decided to make a public offer in order to increase the share capital up to 29 million crowns, of which 16.7% (approximately 4.85 million crowns) will be paid by Grauers and Christiansson through a bank loan[28]. The private bank Erik Penser AB[29] guarantees a purchase for 10.2 million crowns (or 35.2% of the capital)[30] via its financial instrument Erik Penser Fondkommission AB Stockholm.

There’s a diffuse hope that the rest of the money will be placed through a new company, Countermine Plc London, wholly owned by Countermine Technologies AB[31]. The optimism of the founders is motivated by the fact that there are very positive ongoing negotiations with the governments of Croatia, Libya, Afghanistan, Angola, Bosnia, Cambodia, Eritrea, Iraq, Mozambique, Namibia, Nicaragua, Somalia and Sudan[32].

Biting more than they could chew

One of 11 Scanjack 3500 vehicles in action

Things are not going as planned. The other potential investors, besides the founders of Countermine and Erik Penser, who are expected to pay 48.1% of the capital required to start the industrial project, are part of a generation of Swedish financial speculators traditionally called “Wallenbergsfär” (the sphere of the Wallenbergs Clan)[33] and have other priorities in mind.

During these months, after being submerged by a deep recession in the domestic market (2006), Scandinavia’s strongest economy suffered a huge impact due to the global financial crisis of 2008[34]. The crisis clearly shows that the richest families in the country are also the hardest hit by corruption and that, according to public opinion, even if Sweden is one of the countries with the lowest level of corruption in political, financial and criminal decisions[35], each citizen faced with the fact that the police and the judiciary, which are an integral part of the same oligarchic system that revolves around the Wallenberg family, tend to remain silent about possible scandals[36].

The existence of this unknown and disturbing Sweden becomes visible for the first time thanks to the work of two authors of the 1970s, Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö: the couple will tell the behind the scenes of Scandinavian power in ten detective novels[37]. At the start of the 21st century, the work of Stieg Larsson (before his untimely and not yet fully clarified death)[38] began to also publish public names and numbers relating to the swindle between Swedish family oligarchie.[39]

The rescue of the Swedish economy stems from the government’s realization that the 19th century Swedish agrarian oligarchy was based on blood ties and property between only 16 families in the country[40] – of which the Wallenberg family[41] was and still is the richest one: it is the only force capable of pumping liquidity into the system, as well as those who initiated the decision on a series of privatizations of industries which, for nearly a century, have been the pride of social-democrat policy – privatizations which will complete the favor of this oligarchic family system[42].

The tip of the iceberg of Wallenbergsfair (the system of family oligarchs and large privatized Scandinavian companies) is the Swiss-Swedish multinational ABB Asea Brown Boveri[43], one of the largest industrial groups in the world, with a century of history behind its shoulders. This story begins with the pioneers of electricity, data transmission, the construction of turbines, locomotives, reactors and missiles and is now specialized in products at the highest level of robotics[44].

Logically, ABB also manufactures weapons and has been criticized in the past for the nuclear energy treaties signed with Saddam Hussein’s Iraq[45]. In recent years, ABB stopped making anti-personnel mines, but in the years Countermine Technologies came out, the Swiss-Swedish giant was still one of the largest producers in the world[46]. As Countermine Technologies initiates the capital increase, one of ABB’s executives, Jerker Höglund[47], thinks it would be a great idea to owe a vehicle that extracts old mines so that it can sell new and more modern mines.

He is interested in the creation of a consortium of investors which relies on Countermine Technologies and which not only has the target of 48% as foreseen by Grauers, but which should also take full control of the company. The financial companies represented by Höglund are trying to take over the entire capital of the company Grauer and start to pressure the bank Erik Penser to sell its stake in order to allow the appointment of a board of directors, during the 2008 general assembly, made out of Höglund himself and the few former soldiers co-opted by the former director of ABB[48].

The two founders react. With a former company, Yggdrasil AB Malmö[49], founded in 1965 by Erik Penser[50], they manage to convince other investors to join an opposing consortium. The name was not chosen by coincidence: in Norse mythology, Yggdrasil is a huge magical tree (an ash tree) that has its own consciousness and great shamanic power. The Gods gather under the ash tree to make common decisions about the world and the universe[51]. Its branches chase away evil, and that is why the sharp branch of an ash tree is used in mythology to kill vampires and werewolves[52].

Many 40-year-old Swedish stockbrokers participate in the Yggdrasil consortium – a group of people, who emerged victorious from the difficult months of the Scandinavian economy (2006/2008): notably Tedde Jeansson Jr.[53] and Lage Jonason (from Paternum AB Stockholm)[54] and Theia Investment AB Stockholm – an investment fund headed by Ulrika Stromberg and two colleagues[55]. However, the pressure from ABB and the Wallenbergs is too much for these young lions, so Yggdrasil AB and Erik Penser Bank are forced to sell most of the shares they are subscribing to the man who will run Countermine Technologies from then on, and who led the company to bankruptcy in just three years: Björn Gustav Wolrath[56]. Grauers and Christiansson are ousted from the company they founded[57]. Ulf Grauers will never recover from disappointments and is now retired. [58]

The little dirty scary secrets buried from the new owners

Björn Gustav Wolrath

Björn Gustav Wolrath becomes Chairman of the Board of Directors of Countermine Technologies AB at the 2009 Annual General Meeting. He is the largest shareholder (15.73%) and heads a coalition of shareholders who control nearly 50% of Countermine[59]. He is a famous and respected executive, representative of the Swedish family oligarchy[60] and former managing director of the country’s largest insurance company, the Skandia Group[61], where he has been appointed directly by the Wallenberg cloan: since the 1990s , this family also owes this insurance company[62] and its huge portfolio of clients, and accompanied Skandia in a financial scandal of extraordinary proportions, in which Wolrath and other executives enriched in fraud had to resign and sell all the assets[63]. shares which they control directly or indirectly in Skandia[64] to the British Old Mutual group.

The same investigation revealed that Wolrath bought Countermine shares in 2007 for 3.50 Crowns (the stock exchange official value), then immediately resold them for 9.50 Crowns, pocketing a bonus of over half a million Crowns, which he had apparently shared with at least one other director Wolrath had brought to Countermine, as well as with other unknown recipients – but: despite obvious suspicions of corruption and fraud, the Swedish courts have dropped the investigation[65].

The most important employees of Björn Wolrath remain free: the former aviation officer and former head of the British military intelligence service, Sir John Robert Walker[66]; Lieutenant General (and Army Chief of Staff) Johan Kihl[67]; as well as former Swedish army officer Lars Peder Nylin[68]. Sir John Walker was embroiled in a controversy with Prime Minister Tony Blair over the invasion of Iraq during his years as the head of the intelligence service – an affair that cost him his career[69].

He narrowly escaped another Court case in 2005, as a government intervention saved him from a fraudulent bankruptcy investigation in a military industry, ATG Advanced Technology Group[70], of which he was a director and shareholder. He was also later embroiled in a millionaire scam after Walker vouched for a con man named Russell King, who boasted of handling billions from an Arab oil tanker and buying a controlling stake in a finance company and FC Notts County. In the end, Sir John was forced to return £ 8.7million[71].

As CEO of Countermine Technologies, Nylin claimed to be the patent holder and inventor of the Scanjack-3500[72] and sold it through three companies (TERRA Management Ltd., DPS Process System Integrators & Seismic Analysis Ltd and Apollo Separation Technology Ltd., which were not registered in any jurisdiction) based on the recommendation of the Tripoli-based NGO CAEP Conservative Association for the Environmental Protection, which was liquidated after the fraud was discovered[73].

List of shareholders of Countermine Technologies AB, as at the end of 2009, following the completion of the capital increase and the resale of part of the shares initially subscribed by Yggdrasil and Erik Penser Bank[74]

The computers of Sir John Walker and Countermine Technologies have been hacked and an investigation by PricewaterhouseCoopers has revealed that it was Nylin who organized the theft of documents[75]. PWC denounced him and he was arrested. After the arrest, investigation shows that Nylin stole more than half a million Crowns from Countermine Technologies[76].

The last contracts and the bankruptcy

The first anti-mine bulldozer model from Countermine Technologies

The chaos of management leads to the failure of new negotiations. Only the contracts already negotiated by Ulf Grauers and Lars Christiansson have survived, in particular the treaty on the elimination of WWII anti-personnel mines that were buried in the area of ​​the Battle of Tobruk in Libya[77]. Johan Kihl continues to negotiate with the Libyan government as he represents both, Countermine and the military division of the SAAB[78] industry, and Gaddafi wants the old British and German mines to be replaced with new Swedish technological weapons[79].

The new contracts were negotiated in December 2009 between the military adviser to the Libyan presidency, Mohammed Ismail[80], and the two leaders of Countermine, Johan Kihl and Christer Bergquist[81]. But as the Swedes meet the leader of the Libyan minesweeper LDA, Najmeddin Aburawi[82], he speaks clearly: We want the SAAB weapons, we don’t know what to do with the Scanjack-3500 minesweeper[83]. Two years after Countermine’s bankruptcy, an investigation found that Södertälje’s management bribed a number of senior ministerial leaders in Tripoli to secure a new contract – suspected that Kihl and Berquist had bribed Libyans, whose reaction was not to sign a contract, but to pay a kickback[84].

In 2007, Countermine was involved in an experimental project in Egypt[85] under the UNDP mine clearance contract[86], but the new management does not even ask for the contract to continue. In 2008, Countermine received an order worth SEK 6 million for the rehabilitation of a former 1,000 square kilometer military zone in Turkey that was filled with unexploded ordnance[87]. The new management interrupts negotiations and the contract is not extended[88].

In Lika (Croatia), Countermine signed a 7 million crown contract through its subsidiary Terrafirma DOO Zagreb[89], which has already been extended for the third time. As a result of an earlier contract signed by, Countermine is to release 547,000 square meters on behalf of the Croatian Military Agency CROMAC for 4 million Crowns[90]. This one will not be renewed either.

It is the swan’s song. At the beginning of summer 2010, a few months after the overthrow of the founders of the general assembly, the new management announced bankruptcy[91]. Today, the best-selling anti-personnel demining vehicles in the world are the Russian-made ANT-100-R[92], the French and Swiss-made Digger DTR[93] and the British Souvim-2[94], all inferior and more expensive than the Scanjack-3500 from Countermine Technologies.

Sweden continues to produce such weapons despite the signing of the Ottawa Treaty banning anti-personnel mines[95]. The Stockholm government is only involved in one country – Angola – in 36 international minefield clearance projects around the world. All Countermine Technologies managers involved in bankruptcies and other at least dubious affairs continued their careers in other companies, most of them with military productions.

As they continue to enjoy the company’s trust, the question arises: The Ulf and Lars plant, which 20 years ago developed the world’s best vehicle for clearing minefields, is died because contracts were insufficient or why someone in government decided that it would have been better for everyone if Countermine died?


[1] ; ;





[6] ; Mario Tarantino, “Il problema dello sminamento”, in “Informazioni della Difesa”, Vol. 3, Ministero della Difesa, Roma 2002, pages 34-47 – see







[13] Traduzione: società commerciale Ulf Grauers – seeörsäljnings+ab-11084317.html

[14] ;





[19], pages 130-135





[24], page 2 (0)



[27], page 2 (0)

[28], page 4 (2)


[30], page 4 (2)

[31], page 6 (4)

[32], page 5 (3)


[34] ; ;–economic-developments-2006-2017.pdf



[37] Robert P. Winston, Nancy C. Mellerski, Robert James, “The Public Eye: Ideology and The Police Procedural”, Palgrave Macmillan, London 1992

[38] ;

[39] ;

[40] C.H. Hermansson, “Monopol och storfinans – de 15 familjerna”, Rabén & Sjögren, Stockholm 1965






[46] N.A.J. Taylor, A Rather Delicious Paradox: Social Responsibility and the Manufacture of Armaments“, in “Corporate Social Irresponsibility: A Challenging Concept” (Critical Studies on Corporate Responsibility, Governance and Sustainability, Vol. 4), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley (UK) 2012, pages 43-62





[51] Hilda Ellis Davidson, “The Lost Beliefs of Northern Europe”, Routledge, Abingdon-on-Thames (UK) 1993; Carolyne Larrington, “The Poetic Edda”, Oxford University Press, Oxford 1999

[52] ; ;



[55] ; ; ;, pages 19-20


[57] 2009.12.31 Financial Statement Countermine Technologies AB Södertälje, page 7


[59] 2009.12.31 Financial Statement Countermine Technologies AB Södertälje, page 25

[60] ; ;öretag ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ;


[62] ; ;


[64] ; ;



[67] ; ;


[69] 2004.07.23 MI6 boss should quit over Iraq dossier ; ;


[71] ;


[73] ; ;

[74] 2009.12.31 Financial Statement Countermine Technologies AB Södertälje, page 25





[79] ; ;äringsliv





[84], pages 78-79



[87]…-a0183264919 ; ;





[92] 2020.11.08 Demining vehicle ANT-1000-R




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