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Daily Telegraph: Former Shell chairman to challenge FSA findings

Daily Telegraph (UK): Former Shell chairman to challenge FSA findings

“Sir Philip’s law firm Herbert Smith has claimed the FSA published its findings in undue haste. The FSA fined Shell £17m for market abuse and breaching the listing rules.”: “Shell yesterday sought to distance itself from comments made by its interim chairman Aad Jacobs to the Financial Times.”

By Caroline Muspratt (Filed: Saturday 23/07/2005)

Sir Philip Watts, former chairman of oil giant Shell, will argue on Monday that he should have been given the right to respond to the City regulator over its findings into Shell’s overstatement of its reserves.

The dispute between Sir Philip, who was ousted following the scandal last year, and the Financial Services Authority has been brewing since September.

Sir Philip has accused the FSA of “violating” his rights and running a “fundamentally flawed” investigation into Shell’s oil and gas reserves debacle. He has claimed that though the FSA report did not refer to him by name, he was effectively identified and prejudiced.

The hearing before the Financial Services & Markets Tribunal, which is expected to take place on Monday and Tuesday, will try to assess “whether the FSA followed a fair process in issuing its findings without giving Sir Philip the opportunity to respond”, a source close to the situation said.

The tribunal will also look at “whether it can be said that Sir Philip was identified and prejudiced even though he wasn’t actually named in the report,” the source said.

Sir Philip’s law firm Herbert Smith has claimed the FSA published its findings in undue haste. The FSA fined Shell £17m for market abuse and breaching the listing rules.

Sir Philip is expected to be represented by heavyweight lawyer David Pannick QC with Lord Grabiner QC acting for the FSA. “It will be a clash of the titans,” a source said.

If the tribunal finds against the FSA, it could open the way for an appeal.

Shell yesterday sought to distance itself from comments made by its interim chairman Aad Jacobs to the Financial Times.

Mr Jacobs said the company was seeking a new chairman who was from neither the UK nor the Netherlands to avoid giving the impression the company was “too British” or “too Dutch”.Mr Jacobs said: “The preference would be that the next chairman – my successor – would be non-British or non-Dutch.”

However, Mr Jacobs is understood to have been expressing a personal preference rather than company policy. A spokesman for Shell said yesterday: “There will be no exclusions on the basis of nationality. We are determined to find the right person and we are looking everywhere.”

He said the company would look at criteria including “absolute integrity, an international outlook and experience in running a large international organisation”.

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