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Daily Express: Shell scandal boss wins £2.5m payoff

Daily Express: Shell scandal boss wins £2.5m payoff

“I am becoming sick and tired about lying about the extent of our reserves issues and the downward revisions that need to be done because of far too aggressive/optimistic bookings.”

By Andrew Johnson

THE former Shell exploration and production boss who admitted lying about the company’s reserves of oil has been awarded a pay-off worth €3.8 million (£2.5 million).

Walter van de Vijver will be given €1.9 million now and the rest after investigations into the scandal, depending on his co-operation with them and their results.

Van de Vijver and ex-chairman Sir Philip Watts stepped down from the Anglo-Dutch oil giant’s board “by mutual consent” in March after an internal inquiry into what eventually resulted in a 4.5 billion-barrel downgrade to the company’s reserves.

Van de Vijver’s payout — which follows a £1 million pay-off to Watts earlier this year — is likely to cause a storm of protest among the group’s shareholders.

A Shell spokesman said van de Vijver’s award reflected his 25 years of service and the fact his pension, at €385,388 a year, would be smaller than if he had worked out a further 12 years at the company. It was also governed by generous Dutch rules on termination payments.

Van de Vijver will retain options he was granted before last year but the time in which he can exercise them will be capped at five years. He will not be given bonuses for last year.

Shell has already published some of its findings into the reserves crisis, including e-mails between van de Vijver and Watts, earlier this year. In one of them, van de Vijver wrote: “I am becoming sick and tired about lying about the extent of our reserves issues and the downward revisions that need to be done because of far too aggressive/optimistic bookings.”

The inquiry has also revealed severe failings in Shell’s internal and external controls. It has sparked a review into the group’s complex three-board structure. It emerged yesterday this review had been extended into whether the group should continue as two companies, one listed in London and the other in the Netherlands.

The group has appointed bankers to investigate a possible merger between the two, a far bigger step than the single board which most shareholders had called for.

Last month, the group was fined $120 million (£66 million) by US regulator the Securities & Exchange Commission and a further £17 million by the UK’s Financial Services Authority.

Investigations into possible criminal charges are continuing at the US Department of Justice and the group, Watts and van de Vijver also face a host of civil class actions.

Shell shares rose 5&p to 395p.

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