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Spectacular falling out of ‘Security Professionals’ at the top of Shell

By John Donovan

Former FBI Special Agent Crockett Oaks III joined Shell in 2003 and until recently was paid over $325,000 per year as head of Shell Security in the Americas. He has a military background currently holding the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve. Oaks had a Top Secret U.S. Government Security Clearance through the military connection that afforded him the opportunity to attend classified U.S. federal governmental security briefings for the private sector (his employer Shell).

Oaks was for some time involved in Shell’s murky Nigerian operations as Shell Head of Business Integrity in Nigeria. A function that must have presented challenges, to say the least, in such a corrupt environment. This was during the period when Shell VP Ann Pickard boasted to the American Ambassador to Nigeria about how Shell had embedded spies throughout the Nigerian government. A little matter called OPL 245, along with other Shell sponsored corruption, was also going on at the time.

He was wrongfully dismissed on an unrelated matter. He refused to countenance a policy of illegal discrimination insisted upon by his boss James W.D. Hall, Vice President of Corporate Security, located at Royal Dutch Shell plc’s Global Headquarters in the Netherlands. Mr Hall is another person with a spooky background.

Crockett Oaks III was accused of allegedly hiding a Conflict of Interest by hiring a friend, Mike Oliveri – another senior officer from the same U.S. Army Reserve Unit. Oaks supplied copious evidence proving the allegation was unfounded.

The heated dispute ended up in the U.S. courts. I have provided links to all of the court documents and have borrowed some of the text from the 80- page document which includes numerous Shell internal emails. There is some redaction by an unknown party, presumably to hide even more confidential information.

Random extracts from the 80-page legal complaint (recommended read to understand why Shell could not let the case go to trial)

Mr. Hall’s own e-mails and statements clearly prove that he violated Section 3.4 of Shell’s Code of Conduct, which states, in relevant part, that “[w]hen making employment decisions, including hiring, evaluation, promotion, training, development, discipline, compensation and termination, you must base them solely on objective factors, including merit, qualifications, performance and business considerations. . . . [Y]ou should understand the value of diversity and must not discriminate in any way based on race, colour, religion, age, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, disability, ethnic origin or nationality.”

Upon information and belief, Mr. Hall’s discriminatory directives to Mr. Oaks were not solely products of his own mind, but rather part of a systemic pattern and practice of intended discrimination at Shell and its parent company, Royal Dutch Shell plc that is headaquarted in The Hague, including Mr. Hall’s immediate supervisor, Ronan Cassidy, Chief Human Resources & Corporate Officer of Royal Dutch Shell plc.

Mr. Hall remained upset and unhappy with Mr. Oaks – his subordinate had disobeyed him and called him out for his discriminatory hiring desires in front of others.

Mr. Oaks was just “hiring his old Army buddy,” i.e., Mr. Oliveri.

On September 19, 2016, a teleconference was held with Mr. Oaks, Mr. Hall, Dana Croft, and Klara Smits (HR Account Manager for ER, ICNCS). During the call, Mr. Oaks told Mr. Hall that a criterion he wanted to use to screen applicants, age, could not be used in the U.S., because it was against the law.

On December 6, 2016, In Retaliation For Refusing To Accede To Mr. Hall’s Discriminatory Desires, Shell Fired Mr. Oaks On False Charges.

Mr. Oaks was stunned. There was no conflict, and, in any event, he had not hidden his relationship with Mr. Oliveri from Shell.

Paranthetically, regarding the Business Integrity Department, in early 2016, Bruce Culpepper, Shell’s US Country Chairman and Shell Oil Company President, told Mr. Oaks that the department, “could not investigate their way out of a wet paper bag,” “they cannot investigate worth a shit,” and that he “did not want those fuckers involved,” in a specific situation.

Mr. Oaks was devastated by Shell’s illegal termination. His seventy-one-year-old father had a stroke the week after Thanksgiving. Now, Mr. Oaks had been terminated from his job he loved just before Christmas. Mr. Oaks was forced to clean out his office over the holidays. He was humiliated in front of his coworkers and family…

Although Shell claimed that Mr. Oaks had committed a serious violation of Company policy, it unilaterally offered him $281,816.36 in return for a release of all claims against Shell (including claims of retaliation), and Mr. Hall repeatedly called him obviously for the purpose of nudging him into signing the release. This suggests that Shell knew that Mr. Oaks had committed no wrong to justify his termination.

Mr. Hall also told Mr. Oaks that he wanted him to work with him to create a story to tell potential employers about why he was not longer employed by Shell. Mr. Hall knew that Mr. Oaks’ 71-year old father had a stroke the week after Thanksgiving 2016. Thus, Mr. Hall slyly suggested to Mr. Oaks that he tell potential employers that he decided to resign from Shell to attend to his sick father who had just suffered a stroke, and once he had done so, was seeking to get back into the jobs market. 

Shell’s “Investigation” Was A Pretextual Sham

Shell reached a timely agreement with Crockett Oaks III this week in the US courts. I am sure he is no longer free to comment on Nigerian or any other Shell-related highly sensitive matters. What’s the betting that he has ended up with pots more of Shell shareholder money to buy his silence?

PEOPLE INVOLVED IN THE CASE

Bruce Culpepper, Shell’s US Country Chairman and Shell Oil Company President

James W.D. Hall, Vice President of Corporate Security, located at Royal Dutch Shell plc’s Global Headquarters in the Netherlands.

Ronan Cassidy, Chief Human Resources & Corporate Officer of Royal Dutch Shell plc.

Scott Ballard, Vice President, Human Resources, U.S. Operation

Allison McNeil, Head of Shell’s Business Integrity Department

Jasper Smidtman, an Investigator in the Business Integrity Department in Royal Dutch Shell plc’s Global Headquarters

Billy J Powell, Manager, Shell Americas Emergency Management

Phil Smith, Shell’s GM – Emergency Management & Deepwater Regulatory

Bob Schoen, Country Security Manager

Pete Lininger (Downstream Security Manager Americas)

Dana Croft, Shell Policy Team Lead Domestic – U.S. HR.

Erica Slain, an HR Manager

Rob Ream, former Shell Regional Security Manager – Americas

COURT DOCUMENTS 

oaks1: 80-page PLAINTIFF’S SWORN ORIGINAL COMPLAINT

oaks2: 2 pages: SUMMONS IN A CIVIL ACTION

oaks3: one page: ORDER FOR CONFERENCE AND DISCLOSURE OF INTERESTED PARTIES

oaks4: 2 pages: PLAINTIFF’S CERTIFICATE OF INTERESTED PARTIES

oaks5: 4 pages: JOINT MOTION TO DISMISS

oaks6:  One page: JOINT ORDER

 

RELATED

Shell, Ex-Security Head Ask Court To Toss Retaliation Suit

Law360, San Francisco (April 11, 2017, 1:27 PM EDT) — Shell Oil Co. and a former FBI agent who led the oil and gas giant’s U.S. security operations asked a Texas federal judge Monday to toss the agent’s wrongful termination suit that claimed he was fired for objecting to Shell’s allegedly biased hiring practices.

Shell and former Shell regional security manager Crockett Oaks III filed a joint motion to dismiss the suit without providing details about what led to the dismissal request. The parties agreed to bear their own court costs, according to the motion….

SOURCE

Case Title

Oaks v. Shell Oil Company

Case Number

4:17-cv-00979

Court

Texas Southern

Nature of Suit

442(Civil Rights: Jobs)

Judge

Judge David Hittner

Date Filed

March 30, 2017

RELATED

Shell sues former head of security for threatening to reveal secrets

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