By John Donovan
Publication on a daily basis of top secret Royal Dutch Shell internal documents relating to the reserves scandal (first revealed to an astonished world in *January 2004) began yesterday on the website royaldutchshellplc.com. The site has been described by the Financial Times as being “anti-Shell”.
*The Times: How Shell blew a hole in a 100-year reputation (Jan 10, 2004)
*Daily Telegraph: Shell drops ‘bombshell’ on reserves (Jan 10, 2004)
Some of the most important documents published yesterday have been modified so that they are now searchable online.
Both parts of the SHELL EP Business Plan – Volume 2: Exploration and Production Committee – a document marked as being “MOST CONFIDENTIAL” are now searchable.
The same applies to Part 1 of the “REPORT OF DAVIS POLK & WARDWELL TO SHELL GROUP AUDIT COMMITTEE” which is marked as being “HIGHLY CONFIDENTIAL”.
It is believed that certain parties have very good financial reasons to be interested in the details set out in these highly confidential documents published for the first time on the open Internet.
This is the link to the webpage containing links to the updated information. Most if not all of the documents are published as pdf files.
Further highly confidential Shell internal communications and other confidential Shell documents will be posted on the same webpage later today.
Interested parties are advised to take copies of the files while they can, as there is a possibility that Shell will take action to try to prevent the continued publication of damaging information contained in these highly confidential documents.
We give this warning bearing in mind that many pages are marked “FOIA Confidential Treatment Requested”. This appears to be a reference to the U.S. “Freedom of Information Act” – in other words, Shell apparently requested that the relevant documents lodged with the Court be exempt from the disclosure rules under the FOIA. If this assumption is correct, it is an indication of the concern for secrecy which Shell attaches to the information.
Shell has already set aside $500 million in the hope of settling the last class action and preventing the release of associated documents, the contents of which are damaging to Shell’s reputation. royaldutchshellplc.com is acting to thwart the latter ambition. As many articles as possible are being published before the files are sealed by the court in the event of a settlement. In this regard, the information from a Shell insider is that the end game is in progress.
The documents obtained by royaldutchshellplc.com will remain accessible on the website as a long term testimony to the dishonesty of Shell senior management which brought about one of the biggest corporate frauds in history.
Amazingly, some of the senior Shell directors who signed Form 20F submissions filed with the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission, which contained inflated hydrocarbon reserve figures designed to fool the market, remain at the helm of Shell.