By Alfred Donovan
In June 2004 newspapers were speculating that Shell exec, Jeroen van der Veer, might end up being jailed in the USA. This was after he had signed a Form 20F Declaration filed with the US Securities & Exchange Commission, which contained fraudulent hydrocarbon reserves figures designed to fool the market.
It was only relatively recently that the US Justice Department decided against launching criminal proceedings against Van der Veer and former and current Shell directors. They decided that Shell shareholders had already suffered enough as a consequence of the huge fines imposed on Shell by the financial regulators in respect of the massive fraud.
Last week I read a news report that a US lawyer, Brent Coon, is calling for Lord Browne to go to prison for alleged capability in The Texas City refinery fire.
It therefore takes no great leap of the imagination to conjure up a picture of the heads of BP and Royal Dutch Shell Plc sharing a US prison cell: a perfect place to hold merger discussions in complete privacy.
BP and Shell senior management apparently have a lot in common, including putting profits before workers lives (and claimed principles).