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Ben van Beurden: Surely Shell could have chosen a leader untainted by scandal?

Screen Shot 2013-10-16 at 15.23.29Ben van Beurden was private assistant and adviser to Sir Philip Watts during the two years prior to the shock announcement of the reserves scandal in January 2004, which resulted in a firestorm of devastating news coverage that still reverberates today, 10 years later. This was during the period when false information was routinely given to investors about Shell’s claimed oil and gas reserves. As private assistant and adviser to Watts, Ben van Beurden must have known what was going on and must have been complicit in the cover-up? Is it impossible to find suitable Shell leadership candidates untainted by failure and scandal?

By John Donovan

The Observer newspaper has today made the valid point that “Van Beurden knows what failure looks like, as he was a personal assistant to former chairman Sir Philip Watts when Watts was axed over the reserves scandal of 2004.”

This startling fact has rightly been highlighted in a number of articles published since the appointment of Ben van Beurden as the new CEO of Royal Dutch Shell Plc was first announced.

Ben van Beurden was private assistant and adviser to Sir Philip Watts during the two years prior to the shock announcement of the reserves scandal in January 2004, which resulted in a firestorm of devastating news coverage that still reverberates today, 10 years later.

This was during the period when false information was routinely given to investors about Shell’s claimed oil and gas reserves.

As private assistant and adviser to Watts, Ben van Beurden must have known what was going on and must have been complicit in the cover-up?

Since the mega scandal, which brought an end to the Royal Dutch Shell Group in its original form, a succession of individuals, all tainted by scandal, have been appointed to leadership positions in Shell.

This applies to Jeroen van der Veer, Simon Henry, Peter Voser and Ben van Beurden.

Is it impossible to find suitable Shell leadership candidates untainted by failure and scandal?

Are the people responsible for choosing Shell leaders completely bonkers?

RELATED FT ARTICLE

“He worked as private assistant to the chairman, Phil Watts, from 2002-04, including during the 2004 accounting scandal, when it emerged Shell had overstated its oil reserves. This led to a purge of senior management, but Mr van Beurden continued to rise.”

RELATED REUTERS ARTICLE

“Van Beurden, a chemical engineering graduate, has first-hand experience of the reserves crisis. He worked at the time as management assistant to Phil Watts, the CEO who was sacked as a result.”

RELATED DAILY MAIL ARTICLE

“He also worked as an adviser to then-chairman Phil Watts at the time Shell over-stated its oil reserves by almost a quarter. Watts was sacked following the debacle and Shell was fined £82m – but van Beurden was never embroiled in the scandal.”

RELATED EXTRACTS FROM WORLD OF CEOs DOSSIERS

“In 2002, Ben became the private assistant of chairman Phil Watts. His two years in this job included the 2004 accounting scandal when it was found Shell had overstated its reserves.”

“Ben believes in the importance of working in an ethical way as well as corporate responsibility.”

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