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Esther Kiobel vs money motivated hornets’ nest of 66,000 lawyers

By John Donovan

The battle in the US courts over Shell discovery documents was uneven from the start. Esther Kiobel versus Shell’s formidable US lawyers CRAVATH, SWAINE & MOORE, LLP. The Nigerian-born widow of a murdered Ogoni leader on one side, still fighting to put Shell on trial for complicity in his murder, and a giant law firm on the other, which since 2002, has been blocking her path to justice.

Nonetheless, a US Judge granted her recent petition for Cravath to hand over more than 100,000 Shell discovery documents stored in the USA so that Esther can use them in a pending action against Shell in the Netherlands. In response, Cravath hired another top law firm Hogan Lovells led by one of America’s top lawyers Neal Katyal to represent them in an appeal, thus becoming a battle between Esther Kiobel (now a US citizen) and two giant law firms. No doubt with the malevolent presence of Shell lurking behind the scenes pulling the strings.

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The business ethics of Shell and Malcolm Brinded

By John Donovan

It is timely, given current OPL 245 events involving the integrity of Malcolm Brinded and Shell, to remind ourselves of his 6-page letter to Vince Cable a few years ago in his then capacity as UK Secretary of State for Business, describing Cable as the “contact minister for Shell”. Even if just an attempt to be jocular, the description was inappropriate. Since Vince Cable was once Shell’s Chief Economist, an approach on that basis, attempting to exploit his past relationship with Shell was entirely improper and created a clear conflict of interest on the part of the minister. Brinded was trying to persuade Cable to support Shell’s views in relation to the European Fuel Quality Directive. It is obvious from the content of the first paragraph that Shell was already exploiting to the hilt the fact that Cable was a past Shell man. The oil giant was trying to improperly influence/control the UK government just as it was doing with the corrupt Nigerian government.  

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OPL 245: Repeated warnings about the Integrity of Malcolm Brinded 

Below are some of the articles we have published about Brinded and his blind eye policy over the years. Was it the same blind eye approach to the corrupt activities in the OPL 245 deal, or were his actions incriminating? Personally, I doubt that he received a cut. Being unscrupulously ambitious is one thing. Being a crook is another.

By John Donovan

No one has issued more warnings that we have on this website about the integrity of Malcolm Brinded, often in conjunction with comments by the retired Shell International HSE Group Auditor, Bill Campbell.

Shown right is a self-explanatory “WANTED” poster we have had on permanent display on our websites for years and featured in many articles. Please also read the related 20-page forensic indictment by Bill Campbell published on 6 March 2015 under the title: The Case against Malcolm Brinded CBE. It was about the “Touch Fuck All” Brent Bravo scandal and cover-up stretching back to 1999, which cost the lives of Shell workers.

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Fresh Revelations of Alleged Shell Corruption to be Heard in Italian Court

Fresh Revelations of Alleged Shell Corruption to be Heard in Italian Court: Thursday, April 20, 2017

Court proceedings are due to begin in Italy today to determine whether oil giant Shell will face trial on corruption charges over the purchase of one of Africa’s most valuable oil blocks.

Italian prosecutors claim Shell and Italian oil major Eni concluded a deal for the rights to exploit the Nigerian deepwater oil block OPL 245 with knowledge that the money would fall into the hands of a convicted money-launderer and be turned into political kickbacks.

Shell and Eni embroiled in ‘unholy mess’ over Nigerian oil: FT: 20 April 2017

Shell and Eni are waiting to learn whether a judge will accept a request from a Milan prosecutor for the two companies and individuals — including Claudio Descalzi, chief executive of the Italian energy group — to face trial for alleged corruption.

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Withering Assessments of Shell’s Business Integrity by Bill Campbell and Bruce Culpepper

Comment on OPL 245 scandal by Bill Campbell, retired HSE Group Auditor, Royal Dutch Shell International

My experience after many years especially as an Auditor for the then SIEP and then RDS is that compliance with the aforestated principles diminishes exponentially the nearer you get to the Boardroom.

Cannot see why a prosecution could not go ahead and be successful, it appears abundantly clear from the correspondence that handouts to certain individuals would be required to secure a deal and many senior officers in the RDS organisation were aware of this and were complicit indirectly or directly. Their defence may be well that’s what it takes to operate with Nigeria but that is not a pertinent defence in international law and dare I state the obvious that this behaviour is a million miles from the intent of those wonderfully worded but completely ignored business principles that all in RDS from Chairman to office boy are supposed to hold as sacrosanct. My experience after many years especially as an Auditor for the then SIEP and then RDS is that compliance with the aforestated principles diminishes exponentially the nearer you get to the Boardroom. Time will tell.

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OPL 245: Milan Court Decision Day Tomorrow on Shell ENI

Tomorrow an Italian court is expected to make a decision on launching criminal proceedings against the oil giants ENI and Royal Dutch Shell in regards to the $1.3bn OPL 245 corruption scandal.

Two oil giants could face trial in Italy over Nigerian deal

OPL 245: Bernardus Cornelis Adriana Margriet Van Beurden

Extracts from Milan Prosecutors letter relating to Royal Dutch Shell and its current/former executives and employees.

Notification of completion of preliminary investigations Art. 415-bis of the Italian Code of Criminal Procedure The Public Prosecutor, having regard to the above criminal proceedings against

Royal Dutch Shell PLC with registered office in The Hague (Netherlands), at Carel Van Bylandtlaan, 30 legal representative pro tempore: Bernardus Cornelis Adriana Margriet Van Beurden, born in Roosendaal en Nispen on 23 April 1958 Defended by the lawyer Bruno Lorenzo Cova of the Court of Turin, and by the lawyer Francesca Petronio of the Court of Milan, with chambers at in Milan, Via Rovello, 1 With address for service at the Paul Hastings (Europe) LLP law firm in Milan, at Via Rovello, 1 for the crimes and administrative offences listed below:

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OPL 245: Shell email intercepts

By John Donovan

It is plain from these extensive Shell internal emails that Malcolm Brinded was indeed the key Shell player in the OPL 245 deal. They provide an indication of why the Italian Prosecutors are apparently intending to bring charges against him. What a shame that Shell ignored all of my warnings over many years about his lack of scruples. 

Note the involvement of former MI6 agents hired by Shell – Guy Colgate and John Copleston, also up to their necks in the OPL 245 investigation by authorities in a number of countries including the USA, the UK, Italy and the Netherlands.

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Transcript of Wiretapped Ben van Beurden Simon Henry phone call

Transcript: Tap 5 – 716
TITLE: TAP 5 – 716
PERSONS NAME: Ben van Beurden (Shell CEO) & Simon Henry (Shell CFO)
DATE: 17 February 2016
TIME: 19:53:12
DURATION: 00:13:53

TIMECODE Name Dialogue
0:00 BVB Hey Simon
00.24 SH Hi Ben
00.25 SH Sorry, your missed call. I was, er, having something to eat.
00.30 BVB Yeah, I know you’re on leave, so am I. You obviously know what happened at the office today, so I just wanted to check in with you…
00.37 SH I’m actually in the office tomorrow morning.
00.40 BVB Oh will you be…
00.42 SH I’m leaving at lunchtime. I’ve been in Brussels today.
00.45 BVB Oh, I thought you were in Switzerland this week?
00.50 SH I fly down tomorrow afternoon, evening.
00.55- BVB Oh OK, so I… as I said I… just hold on, I just want to get away from the nanny. And so I just wanted to check in and see whether you’re alright. I trust you have been informed about what happened at the office and the fact that they have gone through both our rooms to get whatever information they needed to get.
1:20 SH Yeah. I spoke to Ronan [Cassidy, Shell Chief Human Resources & Corporate Officer] and Souli [Bouchla, Shell Executive Assistant] and I heard that. I hadn’t heard much else actually. That’s about it, all that I’ve heard…
1:302:00

2:30

3:00

BVB Yeah well I don’t know exactly of course the details of the events but I spoke with Michiel [Brandjes, Shell Company Secretary] and Ronan [Cassidy] three times during the day, and with Donny [Ling, Shell Legal Director] who is in Barcelona. So it looks as if they have some form of coordination between the Italian prosecutor, possibly … with a link into the DoJ, but we’re not sure yet. But, er, clearly something they have been preparing for and need to do now apparently also because of a statute of limitations that expires next month in Italy. But it… they were apparently … quite, er, firstly well prepared but also quite forceful and brusque this morning when they got hold of Annette [van Lisse, secretary to Ben van Beurden], they rattled a few people in the office probably. But during the day it sort of all turned into a fairly sort of professionally run organisation, certainly from our side, but also from the side of the prosecutor. Annette was… I spoke with Annette at the end of the day, apparently they had been in my office for 3 or 4 hours going through everything. I have nothing on OPL245 … but anyway they managed to take one folder which they thought was of relevance … no idea what that would be. Apparently they had been in your office … they were still in your office when I spoke with Annette at the end of the afternoon so they were going through things…
3:20 SH OK, I do know [unclear] apparently, a lot of papers. There’s nothing on OPL245 that I’m aware of. They’d be better off looking through electronic records.
3:33 BVB Yeah. And I think they were going to go to Chad’s office [Holliday, Shell chairman], which of course used to be Malcolm’s [Brinded, Shell Executive Director, Upstream International] office. And according to Souli [Bouchla] there is [unclear] there is a whole stack of Malcolm’s stuff in there…
3:48 SH Really? Mmm…
3:50 BVB …so I have no idea what it is, what that could be, yeah.
3:54 SH [Chuckles] Probably more interesting.
3:57 BVB [Chuckles] Yes. Er, you are aware of the sort of, not status, er, Donny [Ling] and the legal team have been up to in terms of the OPL245 forensic investigation that we doing ourselves?
4:16 SH I spoke to Donny [Ling] a couple of weeks ago… But I’m… Not in a forensic sense, to say where are you, what have you found, is there anything to be concerned about…? I didn’t have that kind of conversation with him. You may have had more, particularly if you spoke to him today.
4:375:00

5:30

BVB Yeah, well, they have gone through all the old email exchanges etc. I think the… I’ve been briefed a few times, verbally. They’ve given me a briefing the day before the audit committee because they were going to give a verbal update to the audit committee… So I take it you have [SH: Yes] heard the verbal update so you are probably also up to date with everything. But, er, to the extent that they may not have shared sort of the very latest… I don’t think they have found anything that was clearly incriminating or that sort of suggested thst we were colluding or doing anything inappropriate. But there was apparently some loose chatter between people from the team, particularly the people that we hired from MI6 who, er, must have said things like, “Well, yeah, you know, I wonder who gets a pay-off here and whatever”, so it’s unhelpful email exchanges. It’s, it’s … I haven’t seen them but apparently they were judged to be, you know, just pub talk in emails which was stupid. But nevertheless it’s there, so it, er…
5:57 SH And that was from the time of … the ENI payment, or from a subsequent investigation by us using people with that background?
6:076:30

7:00

7:30

8:00

BVB No, no, no. This is from the time of the ENI payment where, you know, it all was sort of figured out how to do this, and whatever. Apparently there was some really unhelpful emails in there, which then subsequently needed to be followed up with interviews to say, well, what do these emails mean? Well, we’re never going to get a good answer out of that, of course, but they had a list of people that they were going to interview. They have done a few like Anne Pickard [Shell Executive Vice President: Arctic; formerly Vice-President: sub-Saharan Africa] and a few others who still work for us. But they were also going to interview Peter Robinson [formerly Shell Vice-President: Africa]. I’m not sure whether they in the end managed to speak to him, because of course he can decline to be interviewed, he doesn’t work for us anymore. And they were going to interview Malcolm [Brinded] and they were going to interview Peter Voser [formerly Shell Chief Executive]. So, I’m not sure whether they were going to interview you but if you haven’t been approached then they’re probably not going to. It, er. So it’s, yeah, the whole… I got a briefing at some point from them… [unclear]… the law firm, who said, yeah, we don’t think we, we have, there is anything troublesome here but, yeah, at some point in time when it’s all done we have to make up our mind whether we just say “Well, that’s it, we’ve investigated everything that could be investigated and we conclude there is nothing wrong and we will put it to rest”. Or whether we just say, “Well, you know, there’s a few funny things here and maybe we should just disclose it to the DoJ.” Because it all happened at a time we were of course under deferred prosecution agreement, so, we should have maybe at the time been a more open with the DoJ than we now find we have been. Anyway we were not at that point of clarity or conclusion, so, in that sense… this dawn raid is, I won’t say premature, but it’s, we were not, we hadn’t concluded our own work.
8:27 SH I saw DoJ referenced. You mention that… I don’t think there for a moment that with the Dutch side with the possible Italian connection, that do we know definitely it’s definitely DoJ, then, in the US?
8:42 BVB Sorry, say that again. You were…?
8:45 SH I only saw from the, when I spoke to Ronan [Cassidy], plus early messages from Mikhail [Brandjes], that it was the Dutch director of public prosecution and essentially found the Italian link, but did it pick up anything formally, like the DoJ and the Americans?
9:039:30

10:00

10:30

11:00

BVB No, no. It didn’t. When I spoke with Michiel [Brandjes] this morning, and Donny [Ling], it… at some point in time they said that the DoJ was involved and that it was coordinated with the DoJ etc. And then when I spoke with them this afternoon that story had been clarified and they said no there was no DoJ involvement. And the crisis team met at 1 o’clock and, er, sort of went over who do we need to inform. So do we need to inform the DoJ, do we need to inform the Serious Fraud Office, do we need to inform the SEC? And they were going to reflect on that. And so I thought, spoke with Ronan [Cassidy] and said OK let the team properly reflect on that legally and everything and else. For what it’s worth my view on it would be: the DoJ, yes, because we have been asked to collaborate earlier on in an investigation that they were doing in ENI, so it would only be logical we would inform them and most probably they are informed anyway so it doesn’t really matter too much. The Serious Fraud Office, same thing, I would think. Inform them: it’s probably better anyway. [SH: Yes, I agree]. The SEC, I don’t know, to be perfectly honest. So I asked them to contact Joe Babits [Shell Associate Counsel (US Securities)] to get a view on this, whether it was necessary or appropriate or desirable, or whatever. Because the last thing you want of course is some sort of request to issue a stock exchange release when there is nothing to be said other than that we are being asked to provide information. So I said let Joe [Babits] take a view on it. I know that Joe [Babits] has been informed and involved in all this in the lead up to the prospectus issuance, so he will be sensitised to it all, it will not get him cold.
11:13 SH My instinct would be the same. The SFO because, ultimately, they are following [unclear] in to Etete, in the UK, where Etete is, I think they’re trying to extradite him. And, er, in the US the DoJ … The FCPA is a DoJ issue, not the SEC.
11:38 BVB Yeah, exactly. So it’s er, the SEC has no jurisdiction here. It’s more, you know, is there anything that is share-price sensitive. Well, yeah I guess, depending on how you look at it there is – but everything is share-price sensitive if you’re not very careful, huh.
11:56 SH [Laughs] At this particular point in time, that seems to be the case…
12:00 BVB Sorry?
12:02 SH OK… At this point in time, everything seems to be share price sensitive [chuckles].
12:05 BVB [Chuckles] Exactly, exactly. Anyway, so, I just wanted to touch base with you, see whether you, whether you had any reflections [SH: Well, thanks], you were alright, etc. If you are in the office, I’m in France, so, let’s see whether there’s a need to, or, why don’t we just check in tomorrow with each other and see how things are going?
12:25 SH I will go in because if I don’t it will look odd because [unclear] I was due to go in just for a couple of hours, well, four hours, tomorrow morning at least. And [unclear] because she stayed with them until they had finished. She wasn’t clear if they were coming back, I don’t think they were clear if they were coming back [laughs]. And if they are there, then we’ll just deal with it…
12:53 BVB Sorry, say that again?
12:55 SH If they are there, then we’ll just deal with it in a professional manner.
12:59 BVB Yeah, yeah. You probably … know this, so don’t, don’t volunteer any information that is not requested. So it, er… And we just… I think probably they have gone through everything that they need to go through. They may just request your PC and your phone to be imaged. But it, er…
13:24 SH I wonder if [unclear] anyway, of course, do it [tonight/offline?].
13:28 BVB Offline, yeah.
13:29 SH Offline.
13:30 BVB Yeah.
13:31 SH OK.
13:32 BVB OK, very good.
13:34 SH Thanks for the follow up, then. I’ll let you know if anything happens tomorrow [chuckles].
13:38 BVB Yeah, yeah. Well, we’ll talk.
13:40 SH Hopefully nothing tomorrow. I suspect nothing happens for quite a while, but let’s see…
13:46 BVB Yeah. OK, thanks Simon. You have a good evening, then. Bye.
13:50 SH Thanks, mate. Take care. You too. Bye.

Shell’s litigation in the U.S. courts over misappropriated $1.4bn Nigerian oil

By John Donovan

Esther Kiobel, the widow of Shell Ogoni leader Dr Barinem Kiobel, spent over a decade pursuing litigation against Royal Dutch Shell in the USA courts for alleged complicity in his murder.

All of her efforts and those of her lawyers and all the evidence gathered from witnesses came to nought when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2013 that Shell could not be sued in the in the U.S. courts for matters that happened in Nigeria.

Being a simple soul, not a lawyer, I am at a loss to understand how it is then that Shell is currently pursuing litigation against the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (“NNPC”) in the U.S. courts in relation to the sum of $1,416,932,000 (Yes, $1.4bn), plus interest and legal costs.

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Ben van Beurden distracted by a wiretapping incident

Extract from an email reply sent by John Donovan, 18 April 2017

Sorry, Sheikh Irfan Abdullah

If the Chief Executive of Royal Dutch Shell Plc cannot even be bothered to give you the courtesy of a response, there is nothing I can do other than publishing this correspondence, including your complaint. I guess he must have other matters to deal with that he considers more important. He has recently suffered the embarrassment of being caught in a wiretap intercept instructing a fellow Shell director to withhold any Shell internal evidence from police investigating a $1.3bn Nigerian corruption scandal in which Shell is a key player. Hence his distraction. Poor chap panicked after Shell HQ offices were raided. 

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Neal Katyal, the best justice money can buy

By John Donovan

Shell lawyers Cravath Swaine & Moore LLP have hired Neal Katyal, a senior partner at the global law firm Hogan Lovells, to represent them in litigation relating to Shell’s human rights abuses in Nigeria.

Mr Katyal is a busy man. On Monday he will be arguing a case before the U.S. Supreme Court. For the first time, it includes President Trump’s appointee Neil Gorsuch. Katyal endorsed Gorsuch’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court, testifying at his Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing.

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