Smith to file lawsuit against Austrian Oil Tycoon

updated By Mare Haimona-Riki

Veteran Activist Mike Smith (Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Kahu) has announced commencement of a lawsuit to be filed at the International Criminal Court against Rainer Seele, the CEO of Austrian oil giant OMV.

He delivered the news to international press at a conference outside OMV's headquarters in Vienna, Austria on Thursday local time. 

The lawsuit comes only months prior to OMV’s plans to drill 12 wells off the coast of Taranaki, followed by a high-risk deep sea exploratory well off the Otago Coast, which is scheduled to take place this summer.  

Smith says Seele has personally contributed to driving the destruction of the land and livelihoods of Indigenous peoples, including Māori. 

"By continuing the search for new oil and gas to burn in the face of the climate emergency, companies like OMV are condemning our grandchildren to a future of immense suffering," he says.

For full story: Iwi committed to combating climate change on "Te Ao with Moana."

OMV is the last remaining international oil giant left in New Zealand following the Government's ban on new oil and gas exploration permits.

The company just is one of just 100 that have caused more than 70% of the world's climate emissions.

Smith says OMV's operations in New Zealand must be stopped:

"Māori are particularly vulnerable to climate change, being disproportionately represented amongst the poor, who will be the hardest hit. Rising sea levels, coastal erosion, flooding and storm surges will irrevocably damage low lying coastal communities, and warming oceans and ocean acidification will damage traditional resources, including fisheries."

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