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A Black Eye for Royal Dutch Shell Chairman Lord Oxburgh in relation to Shell fraud allegations A Black Eye for Royal Dutch Shell Chairman Lord Oxburgh in relation to Shell fraud allegations

Tuesday 16 August 2005 03.50 ET

A Black Eye for Royal Dutch Shell Chairman Lord Oxburgh in relation to Shell fraud allegations

By John Donovan

Shareholders and journalists who attended the AGM’s of Shell Transport and Trading Company plc in 2004 and 2005 witnessed the hostile exchanges between Shell Transport Chairman Lord Oxburgh and an outspoken, thoroughly disgruntled shareholder, Mr John Farmer.

During the particularly tumultuous 2004 AGM Mr John Farmer publicly branded Sir Philip Watts as a “crook” – a comment which caught the attention of the news media. (links below)

This year during the unification AGM Mr Farmer indelicately raised the subject of fraud by Shell management in relation to the reserves scandal. A flustered Lord Oxburgh testily replied that there was not any suggestion of fraud on the part of any director. He obviously does not read the newspapers or watch TV. (Links below)

Further confirmation that the allegations have substance comes from Federal Judge, John Bissell. He wrote in a ruling issued last week that based on evidence presented in a US class action lawsuit: “The allegations were “adequately” made that the oil company “engaged in material and substantial fraudulent conduct in the United States…”

Lord Oxburgh dismissed out-of-hand any suggestion of fraud in answer to Mr Farmer’s question at the AGM held on 28 June 2005. It is therefore important to note that the following extracts come from the BBC TV “Money Programme” broadcast almost a year earlier on 15 July 2004 (transcript accessible below). This was but one of countless reports focused on the reserves scandal.


Comments about Shell boss Jeroen van der Veer: “signed statements declaring that the submission known as a 20F was a true and faithful description of Shell’s reserves”; “He signed false financial statements”; “he signed certifications that the financial statements met with SEC guidelines.”

Comments about the Royal Dutch Shell Committee of Managing Directors (the CMD): “And what about the Committee of Managing Directors? They too had received a much stronger warning about fooling the market. Jeroem van der Veer and the rest of the CMD still took no action.”

DESCRIPTIONS USED ABOUT THE CONDUCT OF SHELL MANAGEMENT: “deceit”; “false pretences”; “falsely exaggerating”; “misled the world”; “basically they had been told a lie”; “embellished on the numbers”; “exaggerated the numbers”; “basically we lied to you”; “cover it up”; “doctoring the books”; “inventing numbers”; “certifying the reserve which he knows doesn’t exist”; “reserves replacement and production growth were inflated”; “I am becoming sick and tired of lying about the extent of our reserves”; “cover-up”; “actually destroyed documents”; “the scandal blew up and the company’s reputation carefully nurtured over a century was destroyed”; “Shell has lied intentionally and deceived the public” ; “now they know that Shell lied to them and cost them money”; “a fraud perpetrated over a long period of time”; “a fraud perpetrated by the very heads of the company”.

There was none of the usual caveats which precede statements or comments which would otherwise be labelled as libellous: e.g. “allegedly”. The above descriptions were applied without any such qualification. They were put on record as statements of FACT.

Bearing all of the above in mind, plus the fact that the US Class Action Lawsuit alleging fraud had been launched long before the AGM, the conclusion must be that Lord Oxburgh either lives in cloud cuckoo land ,or that he was being “economical with the information” – a term he used at the 2004 AGM to describe the actions of those Shell Executives responsible for the reserves scandal.

Some related material:


Mail on Sunday: Chairman Jeroen van der Veer in frame over Shell scandal – could lead to 20 years in jail

London Evening Standard: Shell ‘has lied for 10 years’ FULL DETAILS OF ROYAL DUTCH SHELL PROPOSED $90 MILLION SETTLEMENT OF CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT BROUGHT BY SHELL AMERICAN EMPLOYEES: SUNDAY 14 AUGUST 2005: 13.00 ET: Read the article US Class Action Suit Against Shell CEO Jeroen van der Veer Alleging Securities Fraud Given Consent to Proceed: 08.00am Thursday 11 August 2005: Read the article Major US Class Action Lawsuit Against Shell Given go-ahead by U.S. District Chief Judge John Bissell: Read the 152 page Order Here: 21.00pm Wednesday 10 August 2005 Read the 152 page Order Here: 21.00pm Wednesday 10 August 2005: Read the article

The Independent: Lies, cover-ups, fat cats and an oil giant in crisis

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