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Shell and top managers are being prosecuted

The Dutch Public Prosecution Service is also investigating whether Shell and four (former) directors, including the current chairman of the board, Ben van Beurden, will be prosecuted for this corruption case. According to Professor of Business Ethics Wim Dubbink, the argument that corruption is inevitable in some countries is “morally and legally an invalid argument”.

Translated from an article published in Dutch language on 21 Dec 2017 by nrc.nl

Corruption

The lawsuit in Milan is about paying over one billion euros for a Nigerian oilfield by Shell and the Italian Eni.

  • Hester van Santen
  • Erik van der Walle

Justice in Italy took a historic decision on Wednesday. Never before have a company with the size of Shell and such senior managers been sued by corruption. In addition to Shell, the Italian oil company Eni is being prosecuted for bribery in the purchase of an oil field in Nigeria six years ago.

Also (former) top executives of Eni and Shell are prosecuted in the case, including the current CEO of the Italian oil company Eni, Claudio Descalzi. Four former employees of Shell are also suspects, including former British board member Malcolm Brinded.

The case revolves around the 1.3 billion dollars (1.1 billion euros) that Shell and Eni paid to the Nigerian government for a concession in a large oil field at sea. From that amount, $ 1.1 billion went to Nigerian politicians and civil servants.

Also research Dutch OM

Judge Giuseppina Barbara in Milan announced the decision to prosecute Wednesday. Justice in the Netherlands has undoubtedly followed with great interest. The Dutch Public Prosecution Service is also investigating whether Shell and four (former) directors, including the current chairman of the board, Ben van Beurden, will be prosecuted for this corruption case.

The lawsuit starts at the beginning of March. The central question is whether Shell and Eni knew about the money being passed on and could therefore be prosecuted for bribery. Shell and Eni maintained until now that they had no influence on the final destination of the money.

Shell (turnover 217 billion euros, 89,000 employees) says in a written response that it is “disappointed” about the decision of the judge. “We expect the judges to come to the conclusion that there will be no case against Shell or its former employees.” Eni (turnover 56 billion, 34,000 employees) came up with a similar reaction.

Justice in Italy did three years of research. Part of the research was an invasion, in early 2016, at the headquarters of Shell in The Hague, in which Dutch FIOD investigators cooperated. “Fighting corruption requires an international approach and that shows in this statement,” says a spokesperson for the Dutch functional prosecutor. To the question of whether it comes to a court case in the Netherlands, the spokesperson says: “The investigation is ongoing.”

Money ran ‘via former minister’

The Italian public prosecutor De Pasquale stated in a report leaked at the end of last year that 1.1 billion dollars had ended up illegally with a Nigerian former oil minister, Dan Etete. Through him, the money according to De Pasquale would have been channeled to other Nigerian politicians, including former president Goodluck Jonathan.

“It is unprecedented that large oil companies now have to stand trial before the courts for corruption,” says campaign manager Barnaby Pace of Global Witness. That British action group made itself strong for persecution of Shell and Eni in this case for many years.

According to Professor of Business Ethics Wim Dubbink, the argument that corruption is inevitable in some countries is “morally and legally an invalid argument”. According to the Tilburg scientist, the international partnership OECD issued guidelines on anti-corruption in 2009. “In the seventies, that argument might have some validity, but now you’re just wrong with corruption.”

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