Photo: John Donovan: Co-founder Royal Dutch Shell Plc.com
EMAIL FROM JOHN DONOVAN CIRCULATED TO EVERY IRISH T.D. ON 6 APRIL 2015
Response from The Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission on 2 April 2015
SHELL CORRUPTION OF IRISH POLICE, AS ADMITTED BY ITS AGENT/CONTRACTOR: OSSL
(£30,000 worth of free alcohol given as a Christmas Gift to Garda officers.)
On 25 March 2015, I sent an email to the GSOC at the written invitation of Irish Justice Minister Ms Frances Fitzgerald T.D. supplying new evidence pertaining to the OSSL allegations against Shell E&P Ireland.
It was in the form of an audio file and related transcript of a covertly recorded meeting between OSSL directors and their Dublin solicitor, Mr Marc Fitzgibbon. He suspected that the meeting was being recorded by OSSL, but said he was not concerned if it was. The alcohol was mentioned over 60 times in the recorded meeting.
OSSL was seeking written confirmation from Mr Fitzgibbon about the alcohol, so they could pass the information as evidence to the CEO of Royal Dutch Shell Plc Mr Ben van Beurden, via his Company Secretary, Mr Michiel Brandjes.
OSSL believes that Shell E&P Ireland had deliberately withheld information from senior executive directors of RDS Plc so as not to involve them in the Corrib Gas Project corruption scandal.
In a direct confrontation at the 2014 Shell AGM, Ben van Beurden had effectively challenged OSSL to supply evidence to substantiate their Garda alcohol allegations.
This led OSSL to seek written confirmation from Mr Fitzgibbon, who had attended a number of high level meetings with various Shell executives and officials when the alcohol issue was discussed.
At no point in the recorded discussion, or in his related correspondence with OSSL, does Mr Fitzgibbon indicate that anyone representing Shell at the meetings he attended, had ever stated that the alcohol did not exist. Instead, the issue at the OSSL/Shell meetings appears to have been whether Shell had already entered into a final settlement with OSSL for all of the goods/services OSSL had supplied on behalf of Shell E&P Ireland.
I also supplied the GSOC with correspondence between Mr Fitzgibbon and OSSL relating to the recorded meeting.
Neither the recording, the transcript, or the related correspondence, existed at the time when the GSOC conducted its 2013/2014 investigation, before publishing its findings on Thursday 10 July 2014. The recording, transcript, and correspondence, all came into existence after the publication of the GSOC report and as a consequence of its findings.
Finally, I also drew the attention of the GSOC to an invoice issued to Shell by OSSL for £30,000 worth of alcohol delivered to Garda officers named on the invoice. I pointed out that it was not new evidence, but important evidence that not been properly considered.
On 26 Match 2015, I received a brief acknowledgment on behalf of the Justice Minister.
The same day, I received a response from the GSOC.
The following is an extract:
The content of your correspondence will be considered and an admissibility determination made if the information you have provided fits the criteria for a complaint.
On 2 April 2015, I received an email from the GSOC indicating that the evidence was inadmissible. It did not identity which evidence was inadmissible.
This extract from their email, with underlining by the GSOC, suggests that they are certainly rejecting the OSSL alcohol invoice. It was the only item submitted to them on 25 March 2015 that was also supplied for the investigation leading to the findings published on 10 July 2014.
Inadmissible complaints are not reviewed by the Ombudsman Commission unless new information, which was not previously available, comes to light and is submitted in writing.
The above March/April 2015 correspondence, with working links, is accessible here.
If you visit the GSOC website and run a search for “transparency” many results are generated, as the term is regularly used in GSOC press statements etc designed to build confidence in the integrity and independence of the GSOC when investigating complaints.
Where is the transparency in this matter? Why no explanation of inadmissibility? On precisely what grounds is the new evidence being rejected?
How is it possible to consider if the rejection on such grounds is valid, when there is no explanation?
With regards to the all-important OSSL invoice, I discussed it in correspondence with Johan Groenewald while his investigation was still underway, but all I got was evasion. His increasingly fractious responses to me are on display via the same link. It ended up with threats on his part and the blocking of any incoming email from me.
The relevant correspondence provides proof that he deliberately ignored evidence.
I noticed this warning on the GSOC complaints leaflet:
FALSE OR MISLEADING EVIDENCE
It is an offence to knowingly supply “false or misleading information” in relation to a complaint. Penalties, by way of fine and/or imprisonment for any person who commits this offence may apply.
The invoice was supplied to the GSOC. If it is “false or misleading” why has no action been taken on the above grounds by the GSOC against the party that originated the invoice, OSSL? If fake, why have the taxation authorities not taken action?
The same invoice is specifically cited in 3 out of these four press statements issued by Shell E&P Ireland relating to the allegations. Shell correctly draws attention to the dating irregularity on the invoice – it was dated years after OSSL had supplied the goods – but notably Shell did not allege in its statements or elsewhere, that the invoice is false. Doing so might prompt an unwanted investigation.
12 August 2013: Shell E&P Ireland Limited Statement
19 August 2013: SEPIL unequivocally rejects OSSL allegations
(Admits distributing gifts to local businesses and suppliers at Christmas time)
22 October 2013: SEPIL Welcomes GSOC Investigation
11 July 2014: Shell welcomes GSOC investigation report findings
OSSL say they had been waiting on instructions from Shell E&P Ireland as to how to present what was bound to be a highly sensitive invoice. OSSL claims that Shell had instructed them to disguise previous sensitive invoices in conjunction with the main contractor, Roadbridge, and apparently expected that similar treatment would be given to the alcohol invoice. However, instructions were put off by Shell E&P Ireland and eventually they were forced to issue an invoice to recover costs.
It is important to note that at no time has Shell ever categorically stated that the OSSL invoice is fake, or called in the police or VAT authorities in relation to the invoice issued requesting payment from Shell.
If Shell had identified the invoice as being false, thereby constituting a demand for money made under false pretences, it would surely be duty bound as a public company to notify the authorities. It has not done so.
The invoice is either authentic, providing proof that OSSL distributed a valuable consignment of alcohol to the Garda on behalf of Shell, in which event, OSSL’s whistleblower corruption allegations have foundation. Or it is false, in which case multiple offences have been committed by OSSL.
One or both of these two parties OSSL and/or Shell, are guilty of criminal offences, but the Irish authorities seem content to let the matter remain unresolved.
Why would Shell allow its staff to be bombarded with hundreds of emails from OSSL, and public demonstrations, as is accurately repeatedly claimed in the above Shell press statements, if the OSSL claims are false? Shell has recourse to criminal and civil remedies (including the defamation courts) but lets the OSSL multimedia assault and public demonstrations continue year after year.
Surely it cannot be beyond the competence of the various Irish authorities – police and taxation – to scrutinise the invoice and make a determination as to whether it is legitimate or false?
I said in an article published on 12 August 2013 raising questions over the same detailed invoice (published within the article):
“I am located hundreds of miles away, but can smell the stink of corruption, even from this distance.”
Unfortunately, despite two investigations by the Garda, one nearly year-long investigation by the GSOC and two internal investigations by Shell, and now a brief examination of new evidence by the GSOC, that remains the case.
OSSL directors Desmond Kane and Neil Rooney have notified Shell of their intention to raise their alcohol payment demands again next month, at the third successive Royal Dutch Shell AGM.
Extract from transcript of OSSL intervention at the 2014 AGM:
Shell CEO Ben van Beurden reply to question by Desmond Kane:
Thank you very much I am indeed aware of this particular dialogue and I am also aware of another comment that Mr Voser made in that same meeting by the way. I think the matter that you are referring to has been investigated time and time again… had been the subject of an independent investigation inside our company and indeed there is no evidence, no proof… nothing whatsoever to substantiate the allegations that have been made out there.. I am perfectly happy to again have a discussion with you outside but you understand what it is that you can bring to this… but if there is no evidence… no evidence whatsoever, I am not entirely sure what it is we need to do. I know we have been in a commercial dispute for a long time and that commercial dispute has been settled… I suggest we leave that to one side but if there needs to be a further dialogue wherever that dialogue needs to be I think we will have that but I would also ask you to come forward with evidence of the allegations you are so fond of making
There is ample evidence in if we put the effort in with you with someone who is willing to listen they will see the evidence and will understand more fully what happened
Shell Chairman Jorma Ollila
Understood, okay, I think we have taken your message we’ll look into it… I’ll have a discussion with Ben
If I can get confirmation of the date of a meeting
I will have a discussion with Ben on how we can proceed here
Thank you very much
In a way that brings this to a happy conclusion so we will not have the same discussion for a third time next year
The promised meeting never happened, hence no happy conclusion.
OSSL does have new evidence to present at this years AGM. I refer to that transcript of their discussion with Marc Fitzgibbon and the related correspondence confirming the existence of the Garda alcohol. Concrete evidence inexplicably ignored by the GSOC without any explanation. So much for claimed transparency.