By John Donovan
On page 187 of his *just published book dealing with difficult corporate ethical dilemmas, Sir Mark Moody-Stuart, retired Group Chairman of the Royal Dutch Shell Group, comments on the issue of Shell giving seasonal gifts to policemen.
He poses the question of whether Shell giving a seasonal gift of chocolates and fruit to policemen on duty near Shell offices constitutes a bribe.
In answer to his own question, he says: “In my opinion this is marginal, but I think nowadays it has been so deemed.”
I wonder Sir Mark in his consideration of this issue was prompted by the allegations surrounding Shell seasonal gifts to the news media and police in Ireland, which demonstrates how the giving of an innocuous well-intentioned Christmas gift can develop into something much more controversial and possibly illegal?
Newspaper staff have confirmed receiving wine packs as Christmas gifts from Shell EP Ireland. One editor returned the gift on ethical grounds. Some drunk the evidence.
The Irish police Ombudsman is still in the throes of an investigation of the allegations by a Shell supplier OSSL, that free alcohol was showered by Shell on thirsty Irish police officers dealing with protests against the controversial Corrib Gas Project. Some of the Garda officers have been accused of using violence against protestors.
The Ombudsman investigation follows two internal investigations by the Irish Police and two internal investigations by Shell.
Shell has refused media access to the findings of the initial investigation and the relevant internal documents and communications.
OSSL allege that after they had supplied alcohol to more than two hundred Irish cops on Shell’s behalf, the CEO of Shell EP Ireland sent a senior man from Dublin accountants KPMG, Liam Grimes, to the offices of OSSL conveying a chilling message. OSSL claim that Mr Grimes warned: “a prison sentence is the likely outcome of being involved in the supply of large amounts of alcohol to the Irish Police Force and for allowing his company to be used by SHELL for the falsification of invoices to suit Shell’s purposes in disguising payments in cash and favours for selected MAYO locals …”
Interestingly, the New York Times has published an article today pointing out that many scandal-plagued companies try to “manage” such problems by conducting an internal investigation.
Given the recent controversy on our Shell Blog over whether it is proper to publish archive documents and comment on matters relating to Shell’s reserves scandal and individuals involved, it is also interesting to note that Moody-Stuart comments extensively on the subject. He actually cites in his book a reference to a related document we published.
*Responsible Leadership: Lessons from the front line of sustainability and ethics‘ by Mark Moody-Stuart is published on 5 March 2014 by Greenlea
Photo from Guardian article: Mark Moody-Stuart: ‘Dine with the devil’ or lose your influence
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