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Why has Ex-Shell Boss Watts brought proceedings against the FSA? Why has Ex-Shell Boss Watts brought proceedings against the FSA who did not name him in their Shell reserves scandal report but not against publishers and broadcasters who have named him in connection with the debacle?

Tuesday 26 July 2005

Numerous media reports have categorically named and blamed Sir Philip Watts for the Shell reserves debacle which destroyed Shell’s reputation. Yet Sir Philip has not brought proceedings against any of them. So why is he embroiled in proceedings against the Financial Services Authority who did not name and blame him in their report?

To take an example of one TV broadcast, we have provided extracts below from a BBC TV programme about the scandal – “The Money Programme”, aired on 15 July 2004.

In the programme the name of Sir Philip Watts was closely linked with what was described as “a deceit that has left millions of pension holders and investors out of pocket”. The programme revealed that “oil giant Shell has been forced to admit that it exaggerated the amount of oil it had in reserves.”

Stanley Bernstein, a New York Class Action Lawyer stated: “There are a lot of investors and many maybe more investors that were affected by this fraud than any other fraud in history”

The narration which immediately followed Mr Bernstein’s comment stated: “When the truth emerged shares plummeted and company chairman Sir Philip Watts was forced to resign in disgrace.”

Some other quotes from the programme which focused heavily on Mr Watts: –

“Suddenly investors realised that they had bought shares under false pretences. Basically they had been sold a lie.”

Fadel Gheit, a a renowned oil analyst said: “Basically Shell dropped a bombshell. They told investors that we embellished on the numbers.. that we exaggerated the numbers basically we lied to you”

The narration continued…

The buck stopped with the chairman Sir Philip Watts, a Shell employee for over 35 years and Fadel Gheit is in no doubt that the buck started with him too…

Fadel Gheit stated: “Phil Watts is responsible I would say 70 or 80% would just be his doing alone”

At a later stage in the programme Stanley Bernstein commented: “When you have a fraud perpetrated over a long period of time when you have a fraud perpetrated by the very heads of the company with specific responsibility for this core issue the regulators are going to get put their teeth into this and make sure that there is appropriate punishment for the individuals involved”

The programme did interestingly also contain comments about Jeroen van der Veer (now the new CEO of ROYAL DUTCH SHELL PLC) who it described as: “The very same man who with Watts signed the false SEC declaration in March 2003… The lawyers are after him too

Stanley Bernstein made the following comments about Van der Veer: “He signed false financial statements… he signed certifications that the financial statements met with SEC guidelines… and I will venture to guess that when the truth comes out we will find out that he did virtually nothing if anything to confirm the veracity of those numbers”

The concluding comments in the programme returned to the theme of blaming Sir Philip and ended with the following confrontation at Sir Philips stately home in Binfield, near Reading in Berkshire: –

BBC Reporter, Rajan Datur asks: “Sir Philip”

“Sir Philip”: “Can you tell us why you did not heed the warnings from your colleagues about the true state of Shell’s oil reserves please?”

(Sir Philip drives off in his Jaguar without saying a word)

Extracts end…

This contrasts with the FSA report on the scandal which did not once name Sir Philip as being to blame. So we repeat the question, why has Sir Philip launched proceedings against the FSA but not against the BBC and all of the other parties who have named and correctly blamed him?

The whole transcript for the relevant TV programme can be accessed on this link: UNOFFICIAL TRANSCRIPT BBC2 TV “THE MONEY PROGRAMME”, BROADCAST 15 JULY 2004, 9.50pm

This link provides an example of what one newspaper article had to say about Sir Philip:

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