By John Donovan
It is a year since Peter Voser left his job as Chief Executive of Royal Dutch Shell Plc to allegedly spend more time with his family. Soon after his surprise early exit, Shell announced a profits warning.
Leaving that contentious issue to one side, I am puzzled that his replacement Ben van Beurden has still not put his name and signature to the Shell General Business Principles document.
As can be seen, as of todays date, it is still displayed on shell.com signed by Peter Voser in his capacity as Royal Dutch Shell Chief Executive Officer.
What is supposed to be an important ethical code pledging honest transparent trading unpinning the entire Royal Dutch Shell business, is woefully and conspicuously out of date.
This has been pointed out to Shell several times in the last year, but the document remains out of date thereby undermining the credibility and competence of the company and its senior management.
Doesn’t anyone care?
Perhaps Ben van Beurden does not want to put his name to a sham, given that Shell’s track record proves that in reality, the oil giant does not abide by the pledges trumpeted in its claimed business principles.
The Form 20F declarations about Shell’s claimed hydrocarbon reserves filed with the US Securities & Exchange Commission ten years contained multiple references to Shell’s business principles. This was in an effort to bolster confidence in the false information provided. The huge scandal involved the Shell Group Chairman Sir Philip Watts (later sacked) at a time when Ben van Beurden was his private assistant and advisor.
Mr van Beurden has shown himself to be more honest than his predecessors, candidly admitting that he puts shareholder commercial interests before what he described as geopolitical considerations – Russia’s invasion and annexation of Crimea.
He may be a religious man who simply does not want to associate his name with such a discredited, dishonest ethical platform.
There must be some logical reason for the withholding of his name and endorsement for a whole year from such an important undertaking.