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Shell not a “hoodlum organisation” says its Company Secretary, Michiel Brandjes

By John Donovan

This self-explanatory email correspondence is published simultaneously with the article: “Former Shell Group Auditor says Shell is a hoodlum organisation

Participants in correspondence

Michiel Brandjes, Company Secretary and General Counsel Corporate Royal Dutch Shell Plc

Bill Campbell, former HSE Group Auditor, Shell International

John Donovan,


Dear Mr Donovan,

Thank you very kindly for the response of yesterday to my assistant announcing a delay of publication until Monday.

I have now had time to consider the message and I am assured that the message by Mr Campbell does not call for any response in addition to repeated previous replies to him. His qualification of the Shell organisation or any part there of as “a hoodlum organisation” is quite incorrect and the dissemination of such a statement is equally objectionable.


It might be objectionable but it is also true.  On reflection however to state that I think this plays right into their hands because their defence is that I have some sort of vendetta against them.

Stick to the facts

Are these matters being investigated by the CPS, yes

Are the CPS convinced beyond reasonable doubt that the evidence they have reviewed merits such an investigation, yes, because they have ascertained that over the prolonged period between 1999 and 2003 there was sustained degradation leading to the deaths

Is the RDS? Chairman prepared to reissue his statement that both he and the Board are entirely satisfied that their Press statements were factual and accurate, no, he will not do this because this casts him further into the mire as part of the conspiracy to pervert the course of justice

Do the Stausholm/Sykes finding totally contradict what the Chairman said in his letter of February 2007, yes

Are they going to supply these findings to the CPS, well if they do they are dead in the water, if they don’t then their statement that they will co-operate with the authorities is horse manure, but if they don’t then this only heightens the case against Ollila that he is complicit in all this and is an accessory after the fact.

What is objectionable is that the Press statements made derogatory and defamatory statements about me, Stausholm will testify that this was done purposefully as a punishment.  Anne Currie has a copy of my Contract with Shell as a Consultant running from 2003 and renewed as a variation on 19th june 3 days after the press release.  Stausholm will testify that Shell were aware of this contract, after all in this period I either led or was involved in 6 or more major audits.  I was also thanked for my contribution to the Stausholm investigation.

the truth will come out eventually, I expect an update shortly from the CPS.

If Ollila has any sense he will pre-empt this whole thing by taking some action, try and build a case that he was duped and misled also, but he is running out of time, he is already viewed as not a credible witness.



Dear Mr Brandjes

Thank you for your email dated 25 July. I also acknowledge your non-related email received on Sunday which provides further substantiation of our recent comments.

I do not agree with Bill Campbell that Shell is a “hoodlum organisation”.  That description does not convey the global scale of Shell’s appalling track record.

It is fair to say that any major international business which has existed for over a hundred years is likely to have some dark chapters in its past. However, based on evidence I have assembled from reputable independent verifiable source material, including declassified government documents, I sincerely doubt that any other multinational company has a history of unscrupulous conduct which comes close to being as bad as the shameful record of Royal Dutch Shell. I  challenge Shell to provide credible evidence to refute this conclusion.

Prior to the 2nd World War, Royal Dutch Shell, via its legendary leader Sir Henri Deterding, saved the Nazi party with an injection of funds when it was about to fail, thereby being indirectly responsible for millions of deaths. Sir Henri was notorious for supporting the Nazi and was a guest of Adolf Hitler for four days at Berchtesgaden Hitler’s mountain top retreat known as the Eagles Nest, where he was once again currying favor in the hope of winning oil contracts for Shell. In an article published by The Boston Globe in November 2001, following the release of newly declassified United States intelligence records, Royal Dutch Shell is described as “a Nazi collaborator that used Hitler’s slave laborers”.

Shell has a tradition of price fixing with participation/leadership in illegal cartels stretching back decades and continuing into the 70’s, the 80’s, and the 90’s and right up to the current era, with massive fines in 2008.

Declassified UK Government documents confirm Shell’s role in the notorious Al-Yamamah “oil-for-arms” multibillion dollar scandal involving bribes and the Saudi Royal family. The ramifications continue despite the intervention of PM Tony Blair to stop an investigation by the UK Serious Fraud Office on grounds of national security after threats from the Saudi regime, Shell’s partner in many Shell Motiva US ventures.

In 2004, Shell shocked the world when it revealed the multibillion dollar reserves fraud that resulted in $150m in fines by US and UK regulatory authorities and even larger settlements of class action law suits.

There have also been many other court actions and settlements involving Royal Dutch Shell including more recently, settlement of the Shell v Wiwa litigation in which Shell paid out $15.5m, claiming it was a humanitarian gesture. The allegations against Shell included crimes against humanity, and torture. Shell had already made admissions in relation to its activities in Nigeria of “inadvertently” fueling corruption, poverty, pollution, and violence in the Niger Delta.

More recently we have drawn attention to Shell’s atrocious safety record including high employee fatality statistics: I refer you to the relevant Wikipedia article and a file of related information not yet added to that article. With regard to Shell’s environmental violations, I refer you to the relevant Wikipedia article and a file of related information including Shell Greenwash deception and examples of Shell groundwater contamination not yet added to that article.

We also have the widely reported Shell sex and drugs scandal in the USA, Iraq sanctions busting, aiding and abetting the apartheid government in South Africa, tax avoidance, a current investigation by US authorities of alleged corruption in Nigeria involving Shell, admitted underfunding of the Shell Dutch retirement fund, improper use of the Shell South Africa retirement fund, all detailed in numerous articles.

Shell’s sponsorship of sinister undercover operations on an international basis against its perceived enemies was detailed in my recent article: “Is Shell the world’s biggest company due to merit or malevolence?” Shell also has a track record of Intellectual Property theft as mentioned in the same article. As you know, Shell settled four such actions with us. IP litigation is still underway. I understand that one of the world’s leading suppliers of technology and project management to the oil and gas industry is refusing to put confidential proposals to Shell, except under unprecedented terms of secrecy designed to counter bad faith and trickery.

I accept that there is another side to Shell. Indeed I was the author of the Wikipedia article Royal Dutch Shell initiatives ironically deleted because it was considered biased in favor of Shell.

However, the positive aspects are completely eclipsed by the negative behavior which is apparently deeply ingrained in Shell senior management.

I recently half-jokingly compared Shell with the villainous fictional organizations SMERSH and SPECTRE – as portrayed in the James Bond spy novels.  That was over the top, but closer to an accurate description than a mere “hoodlum organization”.

A recent posting on our Shell Blog said:

As one senior Shell employee put it,”95% of the people at Shell are honest, ethical and extremely competent. Unfortunately the other 5% are in top management positions”

That brief analysis is probably even closer to an accurate assessment.

If Shell senior management acted at all times in accordance with Shell’s much trumpeted core principles of honesty, integrity and transparency, none of the shameful misdeeds in recent decades which destroyed Royal Dutch Shell in its original Anglo Dutch partnership basis, and ruined Shell’s reputation, would have occurred. That includes our own problems with Shell. It really is deeds, not words, which count.

We sincerely hope that Mr Voser bears this in mind.

The article in question will be published either later this week or on Monday, along with all related email correspondence.

Best Regards

John Donovan


24 July 2009 13.01 BST

With regards to the Hoodlum organisation this implies as you have recently printed no general characterisation of Shell staff, I agree with the reader who states 95% or more are good people its just the 5% that manage that are corrupt or corruptible

Your readers may want to be aware that as a direct result of the actions of Shell Directors and the malaise that was the BB FAI the role of the singularly responsible PF Depute of Grampian region has been replaced by a combined unit

and that also Lord Cullen is in the middle of a process of enhancing the FAI process in Scotland

I am away next week in Poland and I attach an update for your readers of why an investigation is ongoing which if you are interested in publishing, and depending on your response from RDS, you can amend or improve as you see fit in my absence without reference back to me

I would not be surprised if the whole day event Michiel is involved in is trying to sort out their response to this unholy mess.  One thing for sure, they are acutely aware that any comments, particularly rejection of the facts, can and will be used against them so it will be interesting to see what sort of response you get



ATTACHMENT: Shell Brent Bravo fatalities – why a criminal investigation is in progress

24 July 2009 16.54 BST

My main interest in telling you is that many Shell employees past and present read your site, it’s that audience that is important to me.

I do not consider that your site is running a vendetta, this reeks of blood feuds etc., but is honestly trying to paint reality as opposed to so much horse manure

This website and sisters,,,, and, are owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia segment.

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